In the Singapore 2022 budget debate, the Senior Minister of State for Health, Dr Janil Puthucheary was asked about workplace wellbeing. A study by Singapore’s Institute of Mental Health in 2021 found that about 13 percent of more than 1,000 participants had symptoms of anxiety or depression during the pandemic.
This has resulted in an increase in government focus on the mental wellbeing of employees. As a company that focuses on providing employees in Singapore with full time jobs. We’re sharing some suggestions on effective ways for you to improve workplace wellbeing.
4 Key Areas of Focus for Improving Mental Health
Based on the current health landscape, the mental health task force has developed 4 main areas of focus. This includes:
1. Strengthening family support and services for youths and parents
2. Improving mental health literacy among citizens
3. Increase in accessibility and provision to mental healthcare
4. Provide employment support for individuals with mental health conditions
Curious to find out how you can improve your office’s mental health wellbeing as a HR executive? We’ve got the details for you below!
How to Improve Workplace Wellbeing
Improving the Conditions of Office Spaces for Comfort
We are approaching the end of the pandemic and gradually shifting back to working in-office. It is important to keep the office environment comfortable and welcoming for employees. The surrounding environment can significantly affect the stress levels of a person. This is important when a working environment is not ideal, as employees tend to focus more on the unpleasantness rather than their work. Thus, producing products of lower quality.
Some environmental factors include lighting, temperature, cleanliness, and office decor. Natural light from windows is the most preferable in a working environment as it is the most comfortable; bright but not glaring. If there aren’t many windows in your office building, it would be a good idea to install lights that give a similar colour and temperature to the natural environment.
Regarding temperature, according to the BBC, a review of the evidence found the ideal temperature for office work, including calls to customers and processing text documents, is 22°C. Anything higher than 27°C or lower than 19°C increases discomfort among employees and decreases work efficiency.
Cleanliness and office decorations also play an important role. Besides keeping the office clean and tidy, it is a nice idea to decorate the working environment with more natural green plants or flowers with soft colours that are relaxing for employees to look at. Watering pots could also be provided for employees to water the plants as a short break, which can help take their minds off work as a break.
If possible, it is important to provide extra spaces in the office for employees to take a break, or occasionally work in a different environment. These include a break room with a pantry, quiet work spaces, or even a small fitness/relaxation room. Many leading companies around the world like Google and Amazon provide pantries in their office building with a variety of snacks and drinks for their employees to choose from. Workers can take a 10-minute break from work to grab a snack in the pantry and socialise with their coworkers during lunch in the break room. This in turn creates a more harmonious working environment.
Quiet and flexible spaces are also important, especially for job roles that require creativity. It can be mentally exhausting for employers to sit in the same environment every day and try to consistently come up with new ideas. When employees are able to move around and sit or stand in a new working environment, they can feel refreshed and even get inspiration for better ideas in work. Alternatively, access to a fitness or entertainment room would be a great investment for employees. This amenity has shown to benefit both their mental and physical health in the long haul.
Provide Flexibility with Work
We’ve learned from the recent COVID-19 pandemic that constant changes to the workplace can cause stress amongst your employees. Some employees may be sick of staying and working at home all the time while others may simply not be ready to head back into office as they are more effective working in their own time.
It is important for employers to be flexible and understanding in these difficult times.
They could consider the different situations of their subordinates and allow some employees to apply for their preferred work mode, given that they can complete quality work in a timely manner. These acts of flexibility and communication can effectively de-stress employees and reflect how the company values them, which in turn increases employee loyalty.
Create a Safe and Harmonious Environment
It is important for employees’ mental health that they feel safe and accepted in their working environment no matter their mental health situation. Companies can achieve this through education. For new employees, companies could make it compulsory for them to complete readings or online courses on diversity and acceptance during orientation. They should also be made aware of how they should behave around coworkers with mental health issues and types of language that are not appropriate.
For current employees in the company, talks and training sessions could be hosted annually, where they can learn to work with and accept people with minor mental health issues, thus creating a more safe and welcoming environment for these people who are looking to rejoin the workforce.
Increase Awareness of Mental Health Resources
Many employees are not aware of mental health resources in Singapore, or even those provided by their companies. As such, they can be confused and scared when they encounter symptoms or someone with mental health issues. It is important for companies to make employees aware of mental health resources and increase the accessibility of any employee assistance programs.
Another way to provide timely assistance to employees would be to organise weekly or monthly company get-togethers, where employees from different departments can get together and socialise or share their feelings based on a theme. During these get-togethers, these mental health resources can also be promoted, which increases the accessibility for employees in need.