Tom Keya, founder of SoulH Supplements and Soulh Tech mental health platform, shreds the truth on getting corporate wellbeing right. Helping staff to perform, feel secure and valued.
He also works closely with lawyers and impact investment to advocate for a better understanding of mental health issues in the legal workplace. He has conducted various interventions and research in both London and Dubai on mental wellbeing of legal professionals. He has become an expert in the corporate wellbeing space.
He gives his thoughts on what works best when monitoring mental and physical health in the corporate environment.
Better mental health support is essential
Tom Keya believes that health and wellbeing in the corporate environment have arguably never been more important. But at the same time, it’s clear that many corporate mental health wellbeing and stress management programmes are not working.
Corporate wellness programmes fail too often, and I think this is largely because they focus too much on box ticking over actually helping people. The human element within the corporate sector is important, not just because it’s the right thing to do, but also because it’s inextricably linked to profitability.
Mental health in the corporate environment looks different in a COVID world
Tom Keya shares that the sudden switch to mass remote working due to the pandemic, which happened in March 2020, has also increased mental health problems for some in the workplace. While some people feel that their mental health improves if they are working from home, for many others the isolation is a problem.
Creativity and teamwork is more difficult in some cases, for example. Humans are intrinsically social animals, and while video conferencing apps like Zoom have served us well in many ways, flexible working needs strong management.
And now that business owners largely want people to return to the office, there needs to be a greater focus on why this will help employee wellness. This is particularly the case when it comes to people who have been managing childcare at home while working remotely – this is certainly a strong argument for flexible work practices that combines remote and in-office hours.
Employers must take responsibility for staff mental health and wellness
Either way, employers and business leaders have a duty to utilise tools that will tangibly support employee mental health. Combining external aids, such as supplements to help enhance and support along with lifestyle changes can go a long way to providing this kind of support.
As well as advocating for mental health and wellbeing support, I’m launching a new brand of mental health supplements in Q2 called Soulh. Our intent is not that the answer lies in supplements, but that they can assist in helping employees manage their mental health along with appropriate lifestyle changes and in-office support.
For managers and business owners we are launching Soulh Tech which will help to evaluate where their team’s collective mental health stands, particularly in the wake of the pressures of the pandemic and allow for data analysis in terms of productivity.
Wellbeing support in the workplace can’t be a box ticking exercise
Tom Keya says that, “there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution for mental health in the corporate space”. It is up to business leaders, CEOs, law firms, and managers to understand that every employee is different. While some will benefit from social events, for example, others will need different kinds of support.
C-suite leaders often simply do not have the time to put workable and helpful support programmes in place in the workplace. Therefore, I advocate for a mental health/wellness executive at board level – people who have the time, information and latest advice on how best to support workers.
The importance of wellness programmes
Wellness programmes must be complex and flexible enough to provide the solution for each employee, and not exist as one or nothing.
Collaboration is critical as is transparent and approachable management.
A management team that is truly open about mental health and wellbeing will encourage employees to talk openly, be honest and therefore receive the help they need. That’s not to say that management shouldn’t be forceful, as there is always the chance that some will misuse such systems.
Employers know there is a problem with mental health issues
Tom Keya puts strong emphasis on the fact that we’re now into the third year of the global pandemic, and while countries have largely opened and dropped the heavy restrictions that marked 2020 and much of 2021, the mental health fallout is significant.
Disruption is still with us around the world, combined with socioeconomic challenges and rising costs the world over, it’s unsurprising that people’s mental health is still the top priority for employers.
According to a recent global survey from WTW (the 2021 Wellbeing Diagnostic Survey) these are the major concerns for mental health in the corporate workplace for 2022:
- 86% of businesses say that they are aware that employee mental health, burnout and stress should be their priority.
- However, just under half have no formal wellbeing strategy in place to help their workforce.
This shows the level of disconnect between awareness of the issues – which is high – and the implementation of effective measures to deal with the issues.
Four tips for employers to deal with employee wellbeing
The organisations that will thrive in a post-pandemic world are those that develop, initiate and manage a successful and comprehensive wellbeing strategy for their workforce. It must support every aspect of employee wellbeing, including their mental health.
Crucially, it must be properly communicated to the workforce and managers trained appropriately. These are the two priority actions to improve employee mental health and wellbeing in 2022:
- Mental and emotional wellbeing
The pandemic has exacerbated an already concerning level of mental health problems in the workplace. According to a survey by Unmind, mental health issues of people in the workplace cost businesses £45 billion every year – a clear message to make some major changes to better protect staff.
Organisations must have a behavioural and mental health strategy in place, preferably inclusive of meaningful employee assistance benefits.
2. Physical wellbeing
Support for physical wellbeing can go a long way to help the mental health of staff too. If possible, team events, sports and apps to support physical wellbeing and exercise programmes can do a lot of good.
3. Financial wellbeing
Financial wellbeing support and programmes are key to ensuring inclusion and diversity values at work.
4. Social wellbeing
Another pillar of health and wellbeing support is the social aspect – something that has become even more important during the lengthy period of remote working and isolation that millions of people have gone through over the last couple of years.
The pandemic is still here, and it’s not inconceivable that more disruption lies ahead. Business leaders must have programmes in place to support staff, whether they are in the office or working remotely.
In 2022, we will see a shift towards employers finding new ways to incentivise and engage employees to take more control over their own wellbeing.
About Tom Keya
Tom Keya is a business development consultant and passionate supporter of the need for systemic change in the way the mental and physical health of employees is supported. As a member of the Impact 17+1 Club, Tom regularly communicates with like-minded business leaders from many different sectors. Together, they raise awareness of the urgent need for impact across the board. As well as philanthropic and strategic work in this sector, Tom Keya also regularly writes for various online publications on mental health in the workplace and several other topics.