Establishing Mindful Business Cultures to Support Employee Wellbeing
Our 2019 Cityparents Annual Members Survey showed that whilst the majority of City firms do provide support for employees’ physical and mental wellbeing, demanding workloads and high stress levels continue to be common, with a negative impact on wellbeing.
What’s the picture of employee wellbeing in the City?
Our survey showed that City firms are putting a lot of energy into supporting physical and mental wellbeing and this is both acknowledged and appreciated by employees. Despite this, our survey actually showed a decline in the number of people rating their physical wellbeing as excellent or good (53% in 2019, down from 67% in 2018). Those rating their mental wellbeing fair or poor in 2019 was 44% (a slight increase from 42% in 2018). Individuals repeatedly mention unmanageable stress, exhaustion and poor sleep and having no time to exercise or plan healthy meals. As this individual states, “keeping all the plates spinning is nigh on impossible. I am concerned that the constant stress and demands of my job (and trying to balance this with being a parent) will have a long-term negative impact on my children’s development and my own physical and mental health”. The price of this is high for both employers and individuals; whilst some people may thrive on pressure in the short-term, all recognise this is not sustainable and brings negative consequences for both employees and the business in terms of reduced productivity, increased likelihood of mistakes and poorer quality of interpersonal relationships.
When your workload is at its heaviest and/or stress levels are at their highest, what impact does this have upon you?
Support isn’t enough, City firms need to tackle the root causes of poor wellbeing
Our survey clearly showed that employees feel that organisations need to be doing more to identify the root causes of poor physical and mental wellbeing and put measures in place to tackle these. In particular, our survey respondents identified high workloads and unreasonable client demands as being particular issues in the City, with many people still feeling that this is considered ‘the norm’ for a City job and therefore not really acknowledged as an issue. As one individual observed, there is an ‘inherent contradiction of the firm's mental health etc initiatives yet the expectation (overt or not) to provide what is essentially full time client service 24x7”. There’s a clear sense that people feel that organisations should be pushing back on clients if they make demands on employees that significantly contradict agreements made with the employer. The impact of employer expectations of client service is clear. City businesses understandably strive to deliver the highest levels of client service, however in reality this often translates into an overarching need for employees to be available regardless of their working patterns and to deliver against deadlines at substantial personal cost. Organisations need to be clear with clients about their employees’ working patterns and proactively manage expectations around resourcing and availability to ensure a healthier, more productive approach to service delivery.
So, what can organisations do to establish a more mindful working culture?
Based on our insights from City employees, we believe that organisations who want to establish more mindful working practices need to evaluate the root causes of issues in the organisation, alongside providing support for physical and mental wellbeing. We recommend that employers:
- Conduct a root cause analysis of wellbeing issues in the workplace e.g. focus groups, employee surveys to truly understand what is causing issues for employees
- Explicitly encourage employees to create ‘breathing spaces’ during their working day for mental rest and/or physical exercise. This should be visibly demonstrated by senior people to embed a culture which values this
- Sell the longer-term benefits to clients of a different resourcing/delivery model that delivers results yet respects different working patterns and is based on more efficient, sustainable ways of working
- Appoint a senior resourcing manager who is responsible for developing and managing different resourcing models to ensure people aren’t over-stretched
- Encourage employees to set their own personal boundaries and encourage managers to respect these e.g. not checking emails outside of working hours, discourage presenteeism, being mindful of availability
Looking for ideas?
Come along to our Cityworks panel event on 3rd March 2020 on ‘Mindful Work Cultures for Better Mental Health’ where we will be joined by colleagues from Mind, Bryne Dean and Pinset Masons to learn what other organisations are doing in this space and find out more about the Mindful Business Charter. Click here to book.
Released On 15th Jan 2020