How managers can make their workplaces happier

While very few workers ever say they’re driven away by the feeling of walking into the “white noise” of the office, many admit to thinking about leaving, whether because they’re bored, unsatisfied, or feeling…

How managers can make their workplaces happier

While very few workers ever say they’re driven away by the feeling of walking into the “white noise” of the office, many admit to thinking about leaving, whether because they’re bored, unsatisfied, or feeling undervalued. The issue facing bosses, however, is that the kind of behaviour that drives their underlings away can be harmful to their own well-being.

Whilst this may not mean they’re perfect saints, they probably feel like they could improve their health and well-being if they gave themselves a little more mental downtime from the daily grind. So what do employers need to know about how to bring this about?

“Forging a mental health strategy [is important for managers] to improve engagement in the workplace, engagement among staff, productivity levels, and overall wellbeing,” explains Dr. Russell Foster, a psychologist who provides wellbeing and employee-centred work support through his charity, The Sense Group.

“These can be done without undue financial pressure or disruption to the day-to-day routine, but with regular reflection on how activities are linked to your staff and the wider environment.”

That includes examining the power of your own level of stress and how this might adversely affect your employees.

One person who’s worked alongside some of the UK’s biggest companies and experienced the workplace dynamics behind the scenes is Nelly Markham.

She moved into senior management at News International, and from 2006 to 2011, was the CEO of a business supply chain, McKwatt, which serves hundreds of newspaper and magazine publishers across the UK. She left to take up a position as a chief marketing officer at Tesco and although she enjoyed the role, the going was tough, especially the unexpected pressures.

“It was a fast-moving, fast-changing industry with a lot of clients and a lot of momentum,” she explains. “I don’t think I ever rested properly, even if it took me two weeks to concentrate. You’re always constantly on the go, so you have to have a healthy lifestyle and ensure you get enough sleep.”

Foster suggests the following for mid- to senior-level managers working with teams of diverse ages:

• Don’t treat a day’s training as an excuse to skip a morning workout.

• See time off as a chance to refresh and re-energise.

• Understand what stress is, especially as you consider how to avoid it. Foster suggests this means recognising when you feel stressed and what you can do to minimise the impact.

• Embrace the opportunities to play, network, seek socialising and learn, ideally on location.

• Balance work and home life. This could mean sharing a housework project with a colleague or inviting a relative along for dinner.

• Remember not to socialise every single day. It’s also wise to have regular breaks between assignments, with a defined time to recover.

• By making the choice to take breaks, you can manage your own mental health.

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