Stress Awareness Month: Why Companies Should Invest More in Workplace Wellbeing

12th April 2019

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jack Williams, hero UK Head of Sales, joined hero in 2018 having previously spent 4-years supporting the delivery of wellbeing and engagement strategies in the corporate space. Prior to this he enjoyed a five year spell within several NHS wellbeing delivery roles, where he facilitated health interventions and helped patients in multiple areas of positive lifestyle behavioural change. Jack’s university studies focussed on designing and implementing wellbeing interventions with a preventative approach to combat against chronic health conditions. 


At hero we’re very fortunate and experienced at partnering with a vast variety of organisations and it’s clear there is now a much more pro-active approach to supporting mental health and raising awareness about stress. On a personal note I believe everyone is susceptible to stress and challenges with their mental health, whether that be in work or at home and a key part of supporting it is at first recognising it and then learning how to manage it. I really believe that if we take good care of ourselves, we can become more resilient at handling stressful situations, however it’s not to say that this is always enough. On that I’d encourage people not to be fearful of talking to one another and reaching out for a bit of education and guidance if you’re feeling up against it. A positive support network really can go a long way. 

April is Stress Awareness Month and year on year it has become ever more important to understand what stress is, the fallout from being stressed and how to help with de-stressing. More recently there’s been a big push for employers to take some responsibility over the stress levels of their employees, with 80% of people citing work as the reason they feel anxious or worried. For me awareness month’s are excellent, however I also believe there should be a continuous positive approach; reason being an episode of high stress can simply happen at any time of the year and this will vary on an individual basis. 

The Office for National Statistics estimated there were 32.53million people in work within the UK in 2018. Alarmingly 15.4million work days were reported lost in 2017 and 2018 due to stress according to figures released by the Health and Safety Executive. With the modern working environment being challenging and stressful at times, it’s becoming vital to raise awareness and support people’s wellbeing.  


A shift in the boardroom

At hero we firmly recognise that health is extremely personal with every aspect of it intertwined, be that across social, physical, mental and financial wellbeing. The good news is we’re certainly seeing a positive shift, whereby forward thinking organisations are taking a pro-active approach and supporting all areas of wellbeing. Every organisation is unique, therefore tailoring and personalising the strategy is essential in supporting employees across diverse and disparate workforces. 

Increasingly we are witnessing wellbeing strategies expanding their reach and purpose by aligning with the wider employee value proposition. Connecting the wellbeing strategy to organisational culture, purpose and values helps to bring everything together. We believe healthy workplace cultures are important to individuals and companies as people spend the majority of their hours and lives in the work environment. 


A pro-active approach

At hero we focus on the pro-active wellbeing space; we are a passionate team who care about helping people to be healthy, something we believe isn’t always easy. 

Having personally worked in several NHS wellbeing delivery roles I am all too aware that you can’t force positive behavioural change. I believe this is the same in the workplace where we shouldn’t enforce lifestyle change but instead help people to take personal accountability and make their positive lifestyle choices easier. This includes providing meaningful tools, resources and educational content, which encourages people to set attainable and personal goals. 

We believe everyone can take responsibility, whether that be employers or employees and empower people to understand stress & mental illness and learn how to support each other to be the best of their ability.  

Part of this support is promoting a state of “self awareness.” Asking people to look intrinsically and become genuine about their own emotional state.  When we can be honest about what gets us stressed, how it makes us feel and how we react in the face of stress we can begin to identify positive actions.  After all, we can not avoid stress in life but we can control our response.   

Organisations can also facilitate wellbeing with the promotion of positive coping strategies alongside training managers to become better, more empathetic and human focussed.


Why companies should invest in wellbeing

The business benefits of investing in the wellbeing of your team are well documented and clear to understand. We work with many companies and organisations who know that it is the right thing to do for their people, recognising that healthier and happier employees will naturally come to work feeling more energised and engaged. We like to challenge companies to change their focus from the employee in isolation bringing the best of themselves to work, to the person as a whole and helping their people to be the best versions of themselves all the time, both in work and outside of work. 

We know that a one size fits all approach doesn’t work for wellbeing, and so often that’s what we see in place for people. Take up can be low, managers don’t have complete understanding of what’s in the programme and employees avoid it until they are in a position to need it. We understand each organisation is completely unique and will be at a different stage in their wellbeing journey; this includes people, demographics, sector, wellbeing initiatives, HR benefits, culture, values, budget and senior level advocacy, just to name a few. That’s why we know it is vital to truly understand your people and their requirements, for the wellbeing strategy to be built on this and continually evolve aligned with people’s changing needs. Communicating the strategy is a key component and we encourage organisations to identify the best communications channels and always consider inclusivity and personalisation. We’ve certainly seen success where organisations take a holistic approach, have senior level buy-in and integrate wellbeing initiatives and providers in to a unified experience. It’s also great to see organisations having fun with their wellbeing strategy and sharing success stories across all wellbeing areas; ultimately people resonate with people and if others can be seen to be succeeding it can certainly have a knock on positive effect.  


The hero difference 

I was attracted to being part of the team at hero as I believe we’ve created a unique wellbeing offering, which allows people to focus on their own personal goals and proactively take responsibility for their lifestyle with all the right tools. Technology can be a powerful enabler as it allows people to connect with each other, share success and at the same time access tools and resources that are most meaningful to them; it also allows the whole workforce to be reached and included. But it isn’t just about the tech because people value and recognise the power of the human touch, which goes hand in hand with hero’s bespoke range of in-person services across all areas of wellbeing; from personal health checks through to education workshops, seminars and manager training.

With this blended combination of technology and in-person delivery, I truly believe we are able to support organisations in understanding, planning and delivering on the unique wellbeing strategy for their organisation, giving all of their people the very best tools, guidance and opportunity to be the happiest and healthiest versions of themselves at work and in life.

Thank you for taking the time to read my article and please feel free to reach out if you’d like to discuss anything in more detail or share any success stories or insights –

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