Much of the discussion around wellbeing is focused upon an individual finding ways to understand and manage their own health and happiness. However, the workplace plays a significant role in enabling and boosting this more personal wellbeing work, and in creating an environment which fosters wellbeing in all its forms. Here are some ways an organisation can help to support their staff. 

Find ways to centre wellbeing as an organisational value

It is important to ensure that your workplace has resources available to support workplace wellbeing. To make these meaningfully helpful to advisers though, wellbeing initiatives must be underpinned by policy and attitudes that centre wellbeing. This may include a wellbeing strategy, , creating an approach to wellbeing which shows that it is valued and protected, and ensuring robust policies on topics such as diversity and inclusion, compassionate leave, and mental health.

This underpinning should help effective support of staff and engagement with resources to support wellbeing. Our research has found that a highly used and desired initiative that can support workplace wellbeing is a flexible working policy. Money advisers also expressed interest in stress risk assessments and wellness action plans as initiatives to support their wellbeing, as well as schemes to help support physical wellbeing. Conversely, counselling helplines, though relatively widely available, were rarely used. Therefore it is worth considering implementing or refreshing the desired initiatives.

Staff at any level may experience low wellbeing or mental ill health, so it is important to challenge the stigma around these issues. This should be achieved through the types of policy already discussed, but can also be shared and highlighted by all through participation in awareness campaigns such as See Me, or by sharing resources such as NHS Healthy Working Lives.

Support managers

Line managers are often the first point of contact for employees experiencing an issue affecting their wellbeing, and our research has shown that feeling supported by a manager is a protective factor against rising stress levels. Therefore it is vital to ensure that managers are given the resources to effectively perform this important part of their role, and that they have their own recourse for wellbeing support.

Thinking first about helping managers to help others, it is important that managers understand their role and responsibilities as they pertain to wellbeing, including from the point of view of health and safety, and the Equalities Act 2010. Managers should also have access to training or mentorship to help them develop their skills and better understand mental health and wellbeing more broadly.

It is equally important that we do not lose sight of managers as employees who are often facing many of the same challenges as their staff. Ensure that they, too, have peer support and access to tools for their wellbeing.

Create opportunities to listen

In order to create a workplace which enhances staff wellbeing, an organisation must understand what the staff are experiencing, and act upon that information. It is impossible to effectively support wellbeing without understanding the challenges and stressors staff are facing.

An overview of wellbeing in the advice sector can be found in MAS’ previous research, but it is important to understand the particular needs of each organisation. This can be achieved through consultation and surveys on wellbeing and ongoing satisfaction, ‘town hall’ style opportunities for feedback, and soliciting input on upcoming changes. Crucially though, this work needs to result in change or a meaningful response of some kind, so that staff know that they are in fact being listened to.

Communicate change

A major factor that can impact wellbeing is how organisations manage change, and the advice sector has certainly seen a tumultuous few years. As well as listening to staff, as above, it is equally important to communicate changes and expectations in the workplace in a clear, timely manner.

Enable connection

Advisers have told us they value the connections they make in their work, with managers, colleagues and clients alike, and these are helpful to their wellbeing. Find ways to enable and promote contact between colleagues, particularly if the workplace is still partly remote. This might take the form of formal or informal catch ups, in-person get-togethers, or reviving existing channels of communication. While how staff socialise is up to them, organisations can facilitate this by creating spaces – both physical and in terms of the culture and expectations of the workplace – for colleagues to come together.

Money Advice Scotland’s training Talking About Wellbeing and Creating a Well Workplace Culture both contain tips for managers to help them navigate conversations about wellbeing and centre wellbeing in management. Our other courses, Stress Management and Resilience and protecting Your Wellbeing, provides tips to support managers’ personal wellbeing. Check our training calendar for upcoming dates.