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Do You Have Sweat Shop Conditions in Your 21st Century Office?

Do You Have Sweat Shop Conditions in Your 21st Century Office?

In 2017, the government commissioned Thriving at Work. It’s an independent review on the subject of mental health and wellbeing in the workplace.

The Health and Safety Executive reported that in a survey from 2018/19 they found 44% of work-related illness were due to stress, anxiety, or depression. People highlighted unreasonable deadlines, lack of managerial support, very little time away from the office and, too much responsibility, as some of the main causes of their mental health problems.

The recommendations

The Thriving at Work review recommended 6 core standards and 4 advanced standards that could be implemented by employers to improve staff health and wellbeing. The effect of these standards would lead to a reduction in sick days. It would also improve communication and understanding between employer and employee.

Here you can see what vision behind the Thriving at Work review. Maybe you’d like to put the standards into practice in your own company or recommend them to your bosses.

Giving employees a voice

One of the first recommendations in the review is the creation of a mental health at work plan. It should include information on how staff will be supported and access to useful information about mental health conditions.

The plan should be a collaboration between staff and bosses. Staff should be encouraged to give their opinions about its contents and what support they believe will be most beneficial.

The core standards

The promotion of wellbeing in the workplace will give staff the message that management care about their mental health. There should be resources available if they are needed.

Staff should be encouraged to attend organised talks, educational workshops and other regular forms of communication between staff and management.

Support when it’s needed

Make sure staff know what support they can expect internally such as buddying schemes, group support and the opportunity to talk to a person who understands mental health issues. Externally, you can point staff to NHS or private therapy options. Ensure they know about medical insurance and how they can access help online or in person.

Bosses need to make sure there’s no stigma around mental health issues. You can do this by encouraging conversations about mental health struggles and the resources available. If a member of staff has experienced problems and is willing to share that experience encourage them to do so.

Good working conditions

Persuade staff to take rest and meal breaks. And, when they take them encourage them to get away from their desks. Organise short lunchtime courses on team awareness, positive thinking, emotional intelligence, and mindfulness. Teaching staff how to be more open, co-operative, and less stressed will help staff. A calmer and friendlier working atmosphere will create a positive environment.

Start the culture of working sensible hours so that your staff get home at a reasonable hour. Busy periods will always happen, but it shouldn’t be the norm that staff work late every single day.


If staff want to increase their skills, provide training and support from other staff members. Partner new employees someone who can help them with their responsibilities, co-worker introductions while they settle in and get to know the company.

Train managers to recognise signs of stress and how to provide support. If a staff member needs time off or flexible working hours try and accommodate this request.

When a member of staff is off work, keep in touch with a phone call or emails to show support. Make sure the person isn’t worrying about losing their job. Reassure them so that they don’t feel insecure.

Make it easy for staff to talk to management. Listen to what they are telling you. Deal with their problems in confidence and with understanding and empathy.

Mental Health Triggers

The Thriving at Work report gives a list of workplace cultures that can trigger poor mental health. These include:

  • Long hours with no breaks
  • Unrealistic workloads
  • Lack of flexibility
  • Job insecurity
  • Lack of communication or support from managers
  • Not using annual leave

Other triggers can be managers who expect you to answer calls and emails when you do take time off or call you back into work before the end of your leave.

Caring for your staff

If you want an idea of how to keep staff healthy and happy look at companies like Google and Salesforce. They’re not perfect, but the majority of their staff love their working environment.

Look after your staff and treat them well. Unhappy staff won’t be as productive, loyal or care about the company. What’s the point of that?

As a boss, you have to work in that environment too. Isn’t it better to create a space where everyone is encouraged to communicate with each other without fear of repercussions.?

It isn’t hard to create a workplace where health and wellbeing is a priority. What benefits your staff will benefit you too.

About The Author

Mark Hodgson is the Managing Director of Tremark Associates, one of the UK’s leading providers of investigative services. Mark formed Tremark aged just 25 in 1995 and has over 30 years experience in private investigations and commercial debt recovery industries. He is a leading figure and a campaigner for regulation of the Industry and past President of the Association of British Investigators, a member of the World Association of Detectives, The Chartered Institute of Credit Management, The Institute of Paralegals and an associate member of R3 -The Association of Business Recovery Professionals. Mark splits his time between the Leeds and London Offices. He is a dad of two, a keen runner, cyclist and a Leeds United season ticket holder.