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52 mental health & wellbeing ideas for your workplace that won’t cost you a penny

Mental health & wellbeing in the workplace has NEVER been more important and the beauty is, there is SO MUCH you can do without it costing you a penny. 

Here are 52 ideas that have all been found to make a positive impact.

Requires minimal resources

Advanced planning/resources

Longer term investment of time

Free, simple resources with GREAT individual and team activities predominately focused on raising awareness – accessed here

Revisit your absence management process and documentation to include a focus on mental health & wellbeing. Soften the direct question and create a selection of open questions to use as a guide to prompt good conversation around health.

Create a gratitude board where people can post messages of gratitude for their colleagues. Gratitude like this has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, improve relationships and self-esteem.

Create a stress board and get people to share their go to ways to de-stress. This reinforces messages that everyone experiences poor mental health, helping to reduce the stigma and create positive conversations.

Create a diversity and inclusion task force, bringing people from across the company to share ideas and build momentum in evolving the company’s strategy. Giving everyone a voice matters and helps people to feel valued. Unconscious bias affect how we behave, so challenge positively.

Host 10 minute mental fitness breaks which could be physical exercise, puzzles, quizzes, walk for 10 minutes. Create an immediate injection of a mood booster!

Encourage your team to schedule and take breaks with a focus on reducing eye strain. Ask your team if they have taken a break (non authoritarian) . Make sure your messaging, behaviours and actions align. Breaks can help to reduce or prevent stress and maintain performance.

Bring your team together to talk about how stigma has affected them, how it might affect people and build understanding of the impact of stigma. Create a set of commitments that become part of your mental health & wellbeing strategy, which stand up to and challenge stigma. 70% of people may not get the help they need because of stigma.

Identify some local charities that you and your teams can volunteer at for a few hours or half a day. Charities are so grateful for the help and volunteering is one of the five ways to wellbeing. If volunteering is too much, you could always create a food box and encourage people to bring in a few items. Once full, take it to a food bank or homeless shelter – you won’t regret it.

Purchase some plants for the office – simple, easy and great for wellbeing. Being connected with nature has been shown to improve mood and reduce stress.

Host a series of mindfulness activities every few weeks – there are some great guided videos on youtube, or even via an app. Just caveat it that people should make their own choice to attend. It can improve sleep, reduce anxiety and reduce rumination.

Have monthly 121’s with your team, using it as an opportunity for the individual to share how they are doing. They should talk 80% of the time, you 20%. The more regular you engage in conversation, creating an open culture the more greater the opportunity to make an impact in how they feel, their performance and much more.

Create an email switch off policy – and give people the choice on whether they opt in or opt out. This encourages work/life balance.

Create a flexible working approach, offering part time, term time or annualised as a starter! Flexible working is really about getting the work/life balance right.

Host walking meetings – this gets people moving more reducing musculoskeletal problems, and it is great for creativity, inspiration and wellbeing.

Create the opportunity and space for people to share their own stories of mental health – this helps to create a culture of openness. By others sharing their stories, it can encourage people to get help if they are struggling. It also helps to  challenge stigma.

Create a wall of gratitude where people share 3 things they are grateful for every day – shown to help create positive thinking and reduce stress.

Create a targeted approach to reduce the amount of meetings or the length of time spent in meetings – this helps to reduce the amount of time sitting in a sedentary position.

Create a space where people can stand and work instead of sitting. Helps to reduce musculoskeletal issues, in turn, helping how we feel. 

Create a positive workplace relationships taskforce that explores how bullying is tackled, how team work is encouraged and ways in which positive relationships can be created, endorsed and supported. Building relationships is one of the most important things we can do for our wellbeing but not only does this one do that, it also creates an open culture, challenges stigma and helps to really align your people strategy to your business.

Host a virtual team building event. Team building really brings the team together – here is a great selection of ideas to get you started

Build a peer support/buddy system to create networks of encouragement. It can feel pretty lonely at work sometimes, if you are a lone worker or even working more virtually. Carousel your buddy system so you get to spend time with new people.

Run ‘move more’ (friendly) competitions between individuals or teams – you could use gamification if you are tech friendly. Great for physical and mental health and one of the five ways to wellbeing.

Create a survey using Surveymonkey (you can get access to a free version) and use it as an opportunity to get a pulse check on how your staff are feeling. Asking for input and feedback makes people feel valued.

Create a wellness wall of ideas and ask people to share how they keep physically and mentally healthy. Sharing ideas gives inspiration but also shows that all of us have to do things for our wellbeing.

Create social groups of interests – such as runners or book clubs that get people coming together to be social (Even virtually). Being part of a group adds a greater sense of commitment to doing the things you love and we should definitely do more of that.

Implement mental health & wellbeing objectives and goals for the workplace. Align your leadership to what you want to your culture through objectives.

Have Senior Leaders pledge their support publicly for making mental health matter in the workplace. This statement sends a message to challenge stigma, but also that management recognise its importance.

Whenever you are making changes, creating new ideas, bringing in new technology – engage your people in the conversation. This increases motivation and helps people understand the bigger picture.

Create a staff forum where ideas, thoughts and frustrations can be raised in a safe environment and shared with management to support in resolving or actioning. This helps people to feel valued and gives confidence in creating an open culture.

Set expectations around establishing a work/life balance such as avoiding working at weekends, checking phones on days off etc. Make sure messaging matches behaviours and actions.

Promote personal learning – the Open University has LOADS of free courses, GREAT courses. Give time to people to complete their training. Learning is one of the five ways to wellbeing.

Carry out a policy and practice review – performance/disciplinary etc. and consider the impact to staff. Consider how it is done, what support is put in place and how poor mental health is recognised.

Share Wednesday Wellbeing tips via your communication channels. Simple and effective.

Use Mind resources to educate you and your teams on mental health & wellbeing. Change starts with educating.

Coach/mentor one of your team or a colleague on a specific skill or area for development – helping others is one of the five ways to wellbeing and so is learning.

Create a culture of openness with those in a management positions openly exploring how their experiences have affected them. This creates a culture of openness and can mean people may source help having seen others have gone through challenges.

Raise awareness of mental health through quizzes. Have a different topic each time such as abuse, diversity, wellbeing. Awareness is key to mental health and wellbeing.

Create a way for people to make suggestions and ideas. People feel much more motivated when they feel valued and can influence their work.

Download the monthly wellbeing calendar and share it as part of your communication strategy. Easy and full of great daily ideas.

Bring people together through sharing talents! Play music, write a poem…whatever it is! Having the opportunity to be creative and bring your whole self to work is magnificent.

Create a take your break activity with different themes; energise, calming and relaxation. Take 15 every 90 minutes. Breaks help to prevent and reduce stress, rumination and can get people moving more!

Create a campaign to raise money for a charity. Have people choose from a list so they feel they are making a difference to something that matters to them. Helping others is one of the five ways to wellbeing.

Share an inspirational quote of the day – this will set people up with a positive outlook for their day. Reinforcing positive messages can help challenge negative thoughts.

Make signposting resources available and accessible. Knowing where to go to get help is crucial.

Introduce objectives for Leaders that ties directly back to your wellbeing survey. Make a direct difference to your people.

Create a wellbeing hour – a specific hour per week for employees to dedicate to activities that support their wellbeing. This is recognising the importance placed and giving something back to employees to invest.

Run a coffee/tea morning, bringing people together. Or, run a coffee connect, all about facilitating informal chats about mental health.

Create a mood tracker that enables a pulse check day on day. Ask how do you feel today on a scale of 1-10? Everyone can share their score confidentially and it allows management to respond and react dependent upon what is happening.

Create mental health champions who can help organise and facilitate as well as champion the efforts to create an open culture.

Make it an action to call every member of your staff and ask them how they are. Then ask them again.

So there we are, 52 ideas to get you started. How we focus on preventing poor mental health in the workplace doesn’t have to be complicated, we just need to keep taking steps forward.

If you need any help with your mental health & wellbeing strategy, just get in touch at [email protected]

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