COMMENT: We need to move employee wellbeing up the business agenda

Placing employee health at the top of the business agenda, can lead to a workforce that is happy, engaged and more productive. With Mental Health Awareness Week taking place this week, RetailTRUST's Neil Duffy explains why this is so important.

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Mental health

Mental Health Awareness Week takes place from today until May 19. Hosted by the Mental Health Foundation and marked for 19 years, the week offers an opportunity to raise awareness of mental health issues in the workplace – and this includes retail workplaces.

The theme this year is body image, which affects people at all ages and all stages of their lives. It can affect the way we think or feel, which can impact both our home and work lives, and ultimately our wellbeing.

This is why retailers are being urged to place the health and happiness of their employees on the top of their agenda. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has found that health and wellbeing activity boosts engagement and morale, which creates a healthier and more inclusive culture, and lowers sickness absence.

According to the Mental Health Foundation, approximately 70 million work days are lost each year in the UK due to mental health issues in the workplace. Therefore, it is paramount that employee wellbeing is moved up the agenda to help organisations continue to succeed and achieve their goals.

“Only two out of five organisations have a standalone wellbeing strategy”

A holistic and preventative approach to wellbeing

All retailers have unique needs, characteristics and of course, employees from all walks of life. The CIPD has emphasised the importance of taking a comprehensive, holistic and proactive approach to wellbeing centred on the individual. By looking at the whole person, businesses can meet the emotional, physical, vocational and financial needs of their employees. However, the CIPD found that only two out of five organisations have a standalone wellbeing strategy.

According to the Mental Health at Work 2018 report, only three out of five employees feel that their line manager is genuinely concerned for their wellbeing. These are worrying statistics because employees may not be able to get the help and support they require before their issues escalate.

This is why it is so important to take a preventative approach to wellbeing. By looking at prevention rather than cure, individuals can be encouraged to take proactive control of their health and wellbeing needs, and build their personal resilience.

Free digital wellbeing support for Mental Health Awareness Week

To mark Mental Health Awareness Week this year, RetailTRUST is offering free digital wellbeing support to everyone involved in retail this week. Established over 187 years ago, RetailTRUST is the trade charity for the 4.5 million people who work in retail and the supporting service industries.

Only three out of five employees feel that their line manager is genuinely concerned for their wellbeing”

The trust offers personalised digital wellbeing support through its new myrtwellbeing.org.uk website. The confidential site contains over 300 pieces of expertly curated digital content covering over 80 different topics. From understanding mental health conditions, to the benefits of healthy eating, through to developing core skills at work, there really is a wealth of content to support a person’s wellbeing during Mental Health Awareness Week.

RetailTRUST works across the spectrum of wellness to assist retail employees with a wide variety of needs. For example, an individual who is struggling financially, may also be experiencing physical and emotional difficulties. The trust’s aim is to enable everyone connected to retail to get the support they need to manage their health and wellbeing, get help in the earliest stages of distress, and develop their skills to stay well.

Retail colleagues can get unlimited access to 20 articles at myrtwellbeing.org.uk during Mental Health Awareness Week 2019. If further support is required, email helpline@retailtrust.org.uk

RetailTRUST’s free and confidential helpline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week on 0808 801 0808.

Let’s do all we can this week to raise awareness of mental health issues in retail workplaces and help our colleagues get the support they need.

Neil Duffy is the Head of Wellbeing Services at RetailTRUST

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