Well At Work – Network Event

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Well At Work – Network Event

So the link between physical and mental health is something we’re all aware of to some extent, but it’s always good to have an expert on hand to tell us in more detail. July’s network meeting did just that with Dr. Ian Kenvyn of Leeds Trinity University,

The second part of the meeting focussed on something most us have experienced, the negative impact of stress in the workplace. Susan Gee, Manager of Occupational Health at Yorkshire Water explores the subject and looks at how this can be better managed.

Dr. Ian Kenvyn, Leeds Trinity University – Physical Activity, Wellbeing & Mental Health

Dr. Kenvyn takes a very simple but holistic approach to mental health. Of the utmost importance is personal health…the idea being that you can’t help anyone else if you’re not in the best shape yourself. In order to build a good amount of resilience to stress a few key things must be considered;

What combination of factors work for you?

  • Feeling valued
  • Feeling in control
  • Family & friends
  • Effective communications
  • Empowerment
  • Spirituality or faith
  • Physical & mental energy

A healthy mind and body do come hand-in-hand and this involves looking after yourself in a more practical way, for example;

  • Activity – Who knew that 4 minutes of brisk walking could measurably lift your mood for 20 minutes?
  • Diet – Dr. Kenvyn provides some ‘do-able’ rules to help promote and maintain mental health including regular meals, chewing well and hydration
  • Sleep – What is the ‘right’ kind of sleep and how can this either benefit or conversely be detrimental?
  • Engagement (employment, social, emotional) – The importance of being engaged in a number of different ways and creating a balance between these for optimum mental health

Dr. Kenvyn discussed an uncomplicated approach that breaks down into very few steps how anyone can take measures to improve their mental health. If you’d like to read more do take a look at the presentation for further details;
Network Presentation July 9 (Mindful employer)

Susan Gee, Manager of Occupational Health at Yorkshire Water – Healthy Workplaces Manage Stress

Susan Gee, Manager of Occupational Health at Yorkshire Water, outlines quite a dramatic impact poor management of a stressed out workforce can have on a business but also offers a helpful toolkit to tackle this. The first step is raising awareness of the growing problem with stress at work since it’s currently one of the main risks to health and worker’s safety.

  • Over half of European workers report that stress is common in their workplace
  • Around 4 in 10 workers think that stress in not handled well in their workplace

Susan’s ethos is to emphasise the positive impact more engaged and effective management of stress risks can have on the individual, and consequently the business as a whole.
The idea is that better understanding of the risks relating to work-related stress provides a foundation from which to improve the environment. Seeing stress as normal physiological response to factors in and outside of work rather than a sign of weakness is a good place to start. Then there’s getting a grasp of the fact that a stressed-out workforce has a knock on effect on a business’ ability to perform well. So it makes absolute sense to investigate and implement practical support just as most businesses would with standard OSH (Occupation Health & Safety) risks. It appears this is an approach much-needed as only 30% of organisations in Europe currently have anything in place to deal with these psychosocial risks.
Susan offers a Stress Management Action Plan along with practical tools to use that need not be either expensive or difficult to implement. Surprisingly to some, the same basic principles and processes apply as for other workplace hazards.

  • Raise awareness and ensure common understanding
  • Identify hazards and those at risk
  • Evaluate and prioritise risk
  • Take action on preventative and corrective measures
  • Document, monitor and review

The role of management, and employee participation in the process, are crucial in embedding these changes. Finally, the long term benefits to an organisation should show;

• Improved workers’ wellbeing and job satisfaction
• A healthy, motivated and productive workforce
• Improved overall performance and productivity
• Reduced absence and staff turnover rates
• Compliance with legal requirements
• Reduced costs and burden on society as a whole

Should you want to find out more or even take on board some of the guidance and tools provided by Susan, you can see her presentation here; Stress Presentation Susan Gee July 2015

The next Mindful Employer Network is in conjunction with Leeds Business Week, Workplace Leeds and Genus Law and will be held on October 12th at the Round Foundry in Leeds. Hope to see you there!

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