5 wellbeing strategies for creating a thriving workplace culture

- May 10, 2024 3 MIN READ


Imagine this: For every dollar your business invests in effective mental health initiatives, you could see a return of $2.30 in improved productivity and reduced costs. And for small businesses, the ROI can be much higher writes wellbeing coach and peak performance expert, Vesna Hrsto.

Yet despite the clear financial incentive, a staggering 65% of Australian workplaces have no formal policy or approach to support employee mental wellbeing.

As a business owner, you have the power to shift this statistic – and reap the rewards. By prioritising your team’s mental wellbeing you’re not just doing the right thing, you’re making an investment in your company’s future.

The hidden costs of untreated mental health issues

Untreated mental health conditions cost Australian workplaces $10.9 billion per year – $4.7 billion in absenteeism, $6.1 billion in presenteeism (reduced productivity from employees working while unwell) and $146 million in compensation claims, according to a PwC and Beyond Blue report on mental health in the workplace.

Beyond the balance sheet, poor mental health takes a toll on team dynamics and innovation.

Workers who are stressed, burnt-out or experiencing anxiety or low moods, often also have difficulty maintain focus or concentrating on work. Tasks are not completed at the same speed or standard, and everything seems like a challenge.

It’s important that employees recognise that their mental and physical abilities are very much connected and that prioritising mental wellbeing may lead to improved energy, motivation, mood, ability to handle stress, and work satisfaction.

5 Proven Strategies to Boost Employee Mental Wellbeing

1. Destigmatise and lead by example

Share and normalise your own challenges and prioritise self-care. Regularly communicate available support, such as your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) or mental health days. Bring in speakers that provide practical strategies and tools to improve mental wellbeing in the workplace.

2. Rethink rest & recharge

ssess your paid time off policies: Could you implement mandatory minimums or mental health days? Protect your team’s evenings and weekends by establishing clear “do not disturb” boundaries. A short-term break can increase overall performance at work, resulting in better outcomes in the long term.

3. Fuel for focus & mood

Audit your office snacks and beverages: Are you offering nourishing, brain-boosting options or relying on sugary snacks from the vending machine? Cater in healthy, veggie-rich meals on busy days. Consider providing healthy snack choices.

4. Prioritise sleep and downtime

Encourage employees to begin and end their day with a device-free time.  Block out time during the day to step away from the computer to walk outside. Establish a consistent sleep schedule and aim for seven to nine hours of sleep per night and maintain a regular schedule, even on weekends. Bring in a sleep expert to discuss how proper rest enhances cognitive function and emotional regulation.

5. Make movement accessible

Offer the team a flexible work schedule so they can accommodate exercise in the morning or at lunchtime. Launch a lunchtime walking group or quarterly activity challenge. Remember, even short movement breaks can sharpen focus and relieve stress.

As a business owner, you have a unique opportunity to shape a company culture that values mental wellbeing as a critical performance driver. By implementing even one of these evidence-based strategies, you could see significant improvements in productivity, creativity, and employee loyalty.

If you’re not sure where to start, consider this: 43% of Australians indicated they would leave a job if they didn’t feel their mental wellbeing was supported. So why not ask your team which initiative would make the biggest difference for them?

At the end of the day, your people are your greatest asset. When you prioritise their mental health, everybody wins. You foster a workplace that doesn’t just survive, but thrives – no matter the economic climate.

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