Luemo Workplace Wellbeing have been talking to National Retail Association (NRA) members and other organisations about workplace mental health over the past 12 months. As the ’21 financial year comes to a close, we wanted to share our top 4 learnings that emerged from these conversations to help other businesses appropriately handle similar issues. 


  1. Employees are turning to their managers and colleagues for engagement and support

While the workplace has seen scenes of disruption and uncertainty, it has also emerged as a place where people seek support, information and a sense of normality. Employees have been looking toward their managers and colleagues as a source of support and connection. Some workplaces have stepped up, others have struggled. Encouragingly, most have made a concerted effort to rise to the challenge of pulling together to support one another. Structured, proactive communication and training has proved effective and has been appreciated by employees and managers.


  1. Managers have been stressed about how to balance employee support and productivity

Many managers have felt the weight of responsibility to support employees through change, uncertainty and ambiguous challenges. Managers want to lead with compassion, but sometimes they are not sure what to do and this is a source of stress and confusion. Striking the right balance between rights and responsibilities, privacy, performance and appropriate intervention has proved challenging. Building knowledge, skills and confidence of managers has helped to relieve stress, buoyed workplace productivity and assisted to manage business risk. Investing in your leadership team through wellbeing and mental health leadership programs are a way to assist them to build confidence in this area and know how to take care of their employees, and themselves.


  1. ‘Psychological safety’ is not just a buzz term

Making time to create a sense of trust, connection and belonging in the workplace is creating ‘psychological safety’. It’s worth the investment. Why? Problems are averted because people feel safe to ask for help early and when problems pop up the positive connection makes it so much easier for employees and managers to engage in effective communication and mutual support. Trust and connection are also essential for creativity, innovation and embracing change – things that have certainly been required in the last 12 months.


  1. Online resource delivery is an essential element for good workplace mental health and wellbeing

Online has to be the number 1 way to connect, communicate and support employee wellbeing and mental health. Lockdowns, closures, WFH, pace of change, distributed workplaces and reliance on personal devices means that online delivery is a ‘must-have’. Having important information distributed out to employees at the right time is essential and having it available when they go looking for it needs to be made easy. Getting the right balance between valuable education, timely reminders and interesting action points can be tricky if you don’t have an online process in place. Online delivery of mental health and wellbeing information and training supports efficiency, accessibility and ease.


Wrap up

The overarching message is that a proactive approach is required for workplaces to improve productivity, manage workplace risk and develop a connected culture. It is also important to note that in the last 12 months many organisations have offered employees professional counselling which has proved valuable, however, counselling is a reactive intervention and should not be relied upon as the only approach to the issues. NRA members who would like to know more about contemporary proactive workplace practices can get in touch with Margaret Aboody, Director, Luemo Workplace Wellbeing.