14 benefits to champion mental wellbeing
With 137 million workdays lost to sickness each year, and mental health issues increasing by 71.9% since 2011, it’s clear wellbeing can’t take a back seat anymore, and the right employee benefits can be an invaluable aid. There is an ever-growing call for improved wellbeing at work, specifically surrounding mental health, so we’ve compiled the ultimate list of benefits to improve mental health in the workplace. From the reliable basics, to one-of-a-kind luxuries; take a look and see what may be missing from your wellbeing strategy.
1. Healthcare Cash Plan
Many businesses offer a Healthcare Cash Plan to employees, but did you know this often covers additional treatments like massages and acupuncture? At Benefex, our core level of the HCP includes up to £200 massage, acupuncture and chiropractic treatments from a local provider. When reviewing your HCP, consider what extras it may include (or could be expanded to include) for wellbeing.
2. Employee Assistance Programme
An Employee Assistance Programme is considered a fundamental basic in workplaces, but it’s a great starting point if your organisation is new to wellbeing and can’t invest in a full scheme yet. Most companies have an existing EAP, but many employees may not know what this is, how it works or even where to find it. Try to promote your EAP across the board, emphasising its different elements of mental, financial and physical wellbeing.
3. Casual clothes policy
While more and more organisations are adopting casual clothes policies, if your work environment could allow for home clothes but still insists on office-wear, consider the effects. When employees wear their own clothes, they feel more comfortable, feel validated in their identify and, in turn, their productivity, concentration and mental wellbeing all increase.
4. Flexible working
There is a multitude of supporting research and case studies for flexible working – above all, that it provides people time to rest, rejuvenate and recuperate, which results in happier, healthier (and more productive) employees. While not all jobs can be tailored to flexible working, there are many small adjustments businesses can make, even if they are unable to completely do away with 9-5s. Encourage employees to take longer breaks, to use a welcoming social space, work from home or listen to music at work when possible.
5. Onsite gyms or discounted membership
Across our clients, discounted gym memberships are one of the most popular leisure benefits, only surpassed by travel insurance and holiday trading. Offering a discounted membership not only encourages employees to take care of their physical wellbeing, or embrace general wellness practices such as yoga or meditation, but it gives workers an extra incentive to get out of the office during breaks. Some companies such as Twitter and Facebook even have their own onsite gyms and wellness zones.
The extra mile:
6. Employer charitability
Doing good feels good, and looking after our own wellbeing by caring for others’ is a powerful company value to promote. The benefits of a Give As You Earn scheme include increased motivation, happiness and employee loyalty. Companies like Salesforce and Sage give their people time off to volunteer, while other businesses offer to match employee Payroll Giving donations. Even a relatively small gesture like sponsoring a charity improves overall workplace wellbeing, as it humanises the organisation and shows workers that their employer cares about them, and their causes.
7. Financial education and wellbeing
UK employers see more than 2 million working days lost each year due to money worries. The amount of financial pressure employees face is only increasing, but with the help of financial education and wellbeing, employers can ensure their people are equipped to combat this. Benefex client, through our OneHub platform, which provides free, accessible learning to all employees in the form of integrated savings, education and budgeting apps.
8. Mindfulness training
Although mindfulness has historically been overlooked as ‘trivial’, many companies have begun to take it more seriously. Studies show that mindfulness and meditation helps brain activity, productivity and mental health. Among those adopting the technique are business giants Apple, Google and Nike, who all run meditation and mindfulness classes in their offices.
9. Experience days
With such a wide range of experiences on offer through providers such as Virgin Experience, employees can take up mindful opportunities like hiking, yoga and meditation to spend time with nature and focus on their wellness. What’s more, this in turn promotes positive connotations back to the business who enabled these experiences; resulting in happier employees at work, as well as home.
10. Discounted app memberships
At Benefex, we provide all our employees access to a discounted annual membership with Headspace, an app offering guided meditation, soundscapes and mindfulness exercises. With the hundreds of mental wellbeing apps like out there, why not offer your people a contribution towards their membership, or partner with an app to offer discounted rates.
Above and beyond:
11. Nap pods
Some companies, like Google, Uber and Ben & Jerry’s have introduced nap areas onsite, where employees can catch some Zzzs on the job – whether they’re new parents, insomniacs or just needing some extra rest! Napping in the day can actually improve productivity, and compared to falling asleep at the desk, doing poor quality work, or even going home, surely providing a comfortable place to have a rest is preferable for both employee and employer?
12. Onsite yoga and meditation
With more and more companies becoming aware of the uses of mindfulness and meditation, facilities such as onsite gyms, meditation and yoga classes have become popular among business giants like Apple, Google, Yahoo, Nike and Twitter. While not all organisations can afford to invest in luxurious wellbeing facilities, giving employees access to regular yoga, meditation or mindfulness workshops with an instructor at work can drastically improve focus and mood.
13. Staff allotments
A truly one-of-a-kind benefit introduced by British Airways garnered buzz a few years ago: the travel company offered staff member garden allotments, located at their headquarters in London. Not only does this encourage green-fingers, but it emphasised that the company truly cared about their employees’ wellbeing. With proven links between nature and our mental health, perhaps this unique benefit is the start of a new trend.
14. Online therapy subscription
Finally, perhaps one of the most beneficial employee benefits – providing your people with subscriptions (whether complimentary or subsidised) to online therapy services, such as Better Help. Traditional therapy can be costly and require months on a waiting list, and then consists of in-person visits; which for many makes it difficult to be open, and ironically, is difficult to fit in around work commitments. In contrast, online therapy allows 24/7 access to offload your thoughts at any time, then discuss them in scheduled sessions via text, video or phone. While some EAPs do include access to counselling, often employees feel these remain linked to their employer; or the programmes are constricted to basic self-help style guidance. For full, professional mental health help, an online therapy programme can be a literal life saver.
Not all organisations have the resources or justification for fully-fledged wellbeing schemes, but implementing even just one of these benefits can make a world of difference. Instead of suffering in silence, your people can prosper at work in peace.
Lorelei is an avid proponent of iced coffee, video games and anything to do with outerspace.
Copywriter by day, filmmaker by night – Lorelei graduated from university with a degree in Film and Screenwriting, and continues to write and direct films with their production company.
When not at work, you can probably stumble upon Lorelei buying overpriced cold brew in a hipster coffee shop while editing a screenplay or rewatching Buffy the Vampire Slayer for the 100th time.