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How swapping out two words can help improve employee wellbeing

Caroline Welsh, Operations Director for our Marketplace partner Leafyard and a member of the Wellbeing Champions Committee, explores how one simple change can help improve employee wellbeing.

The wellbeing of your colleagues should be your top priority!

Early last year, the Leafyard research team uncovered a surprising finding for helping to improve employee wellbeing. Simply swapping out the words ‘mental health’ for the slightly newer term ‘mental fitness’ is proven to increase team productivity, reduce presenteeism, and impact profits.

Workplace stress, worries, and concerns have a drastic effect on your staff

In today’s world it feels obvious to state that your work is impacted by your mental health, and vice versa. But it’s vital we keep it front of mind – a recent study by The Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development found that stress is the main cause of staff absence and sickness. Are we surprised? Not really. And yet it is somehow national news.

So, with increased knowledge and awareness, why is the problem only getting worse? And not just for people’s mental health, but also for your business and your profit.

The Deloitte report (the leading study on mental health and employers), worked out the cost of mental health on business.

  • Absenteeism costs £6.8 billion a year.
  • Presenteeism (staff signing into work unable to work) costs between £26.6 billion to £29.3 billion a year.
  • Turnover costs £8.6 billion a year.

Overall, businesses lose £45 billion a year because they don’t adequately support their team’s wellbeing. If you aren’t convinced to invest in your team’s mental wellbeing out of the goodness of your own heart, then maybe the economic benefits might help convince you.

Investing in workplace mental health support has an ROI of 5:1. For every £1 you spend improving your staff’s wellbeing, you make £5 in return. It’s a win-win situation. So why are companies not investing in workplace mental health support? Or, more accurately, the right type of support.

Your current solution likely has little to no impact

We’ve been circling around the topics of workplace wellness, self-care, work life balance for years. So, why has nothing changed?

To put it simply, most mental health support systems just tell you what to do, they aren’t able to make you take action. We all know we need to sleep 7-9 hours to feel refreshed and that journaling can help us find clarity on our problems. Yet, we tend to do them once and hope that will solve all our problems. We know what we need to do, but we don’t actually do it. Or more accurately, do it regularly.

Have a think now. What is the average engagement rate of your mental health support? While EAP’s have a lowly 8% average uptake rate. at Leafyard, we boast an incredible 25%. Our users keep coming back. They build habits and start a consistent mental fitness journey.

The power of mental fitness

The secret to our engagement is not brain science, it’s behavioural science – ie the habits we engage with every day. We understand how to motivate, empower, and encourage people to take action. And sometimes this is as simple as adapting our language use. Despite opening up the conversation, the term ‘mental health’ still carries negative stigma and associations. In contrast, ‘mental fitness’ is new, exciting, and fresh. It creates a culture of high performance rather than stigma – we are all just trying to operate at our best.

When people see the support as “mental health”, many feel they need a diagnosis to qualify to use it – even though we can all benefit from improving our resilience.

At Leafyard, we’ve found that this small change in terminology has had a massive impact on our engagement. It draws in a wider crowd of people. Our users are not just people struggling with their mental health, they are also simply people seeking new opportunities for self-improvement.

This allows us to target the issues directly. We are not just reactive, we are proactive too. We target people before they reach crisis point. This directly targets the main issue affecting workplaces – presenteeism.

The people who come into work when they aren’t capable of working don’t think they need help. But they do want to improve their mind.

But what actually is mental fitness?

Just as we train our physical fitness through stretching, cardio, and weight training, it’s become increasingly apparent that we also need to train our mental fitness through mindfulness, thought reframing, habit-building, and more.

The idea behind this is pretty simple. We train our bodies so that we don’t get injured as much. We stretch to improve flexibility and performance. It’s the same with our minds. If we train our brain to be more resilient and positive on a day-to-day basis, when we’re faced with challenges or bad times, we’re in a much better space to deal with them in a healthy way.

Whether we’re in the workplace or off the clock, mental fitness is incredibly important for maintaining peak performance, increasing retention, and improving employee morale and wellbeing.

So, with that in mind, some practical examples of mental fitness include:

  • Resilience training
  • Meditation
  • Journaling
  • Getting out in nature
  • Moving your body
  • Slowing down and being present
  • Using your phone less
  • Taking time to reframe your thoughts

All of these activities and strategies are key parts of the Leafyard journey, and we guide you through each one, explaining the science behind each technique, and how you can integrate them into your daily lives.

The impact of Leafyard on businesses

On average, Leafyard has been proven to improve presenteeism in workplaces by a massive 30%. When people have practical strategies and techniques at their fingertips, together with the power of behavioural science to make these new habits stick, it makes a lasting difference to both employers and employees.

This is due in large part to the fact that Leafyard is both a preventative mental fitness platform and a CBT-inclusive mental health treatment ecosystem. By offering both in one user-friendly package, engagement rises and your workforce feels better as a result!

To find out more about Leafyard, visit our Marketplace page.

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