Wellbeing is a much used word that has become part of our vocabulary but what does it actually mean?

We know it is subjective and about hearts and minds. It is a measure of how we feel about and experience our lives. Wellbeing, positive mental health and mental wellbeing are often used interchangeably, although ‘wellbeing’ is also used in a broader sense to include physical health, diet, sleep, prosperity, relationships and the meaning and purpose we feel about our lives.

Here at SME Strategies we want to help our clients run even more successful businesses including naturally enough greater profitability. But success also includes the satisfaction and fulfilment that work and life provide both for SME business owners and their staff and that includes our mental and physical wellbeing. What exactly though we do we mean by good mental health and mental wellbeing?

The ‘World Health Organisation’ gives this definition:

“Mental health is not just the absence of mental disorder. It is defined as a state of well-being in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.”

That’s a pretty tall order. Who defines what the normal stresses are anyway? Daily life would be more accurate and that includes more than just our job – it includes family life, hobbies, passions, chores, etc.

Mind’, the national charity, says good mental health is about our behaviour – what we do. It says that good mental health exists when:

“You care about yourself and you care for yourself. You love yourself, not hate yourself. You look after your physical health – eat well, sleep well, exercise and enjoy yourself. You see yourself as being a valuable person in your own right. You don’t have to earn the right to exist. You exist, so you have the right to exist. You judge yourself on reasonable standards. You don’t set yourself impossible goals, such as ‘I have to be perfect in everything I do’, and then punish yourself when you don’t reach those goals.”

This is encouraging as it sounds more realistic. One of most important things to come out of modern thinking on mental health is that it is a spectrum, or a continuum, and that applies to everyone. It’s part of the human condition. There are days when we are at one end and there are days when we are more towards the other end.

It is known that emotionally secure workplaces experience fewer absences, have increased productivity, greater employee creativity and engagement, and greater customer satisfaction. The business case for taking workplace wellbeing seriously is well proven just as most of us now take the environment and sustainability seriously. WealthBeing seeks to combine good business practice with the ethos of wellbeing to create innovative and successful companies.

Despite the clear benefits of good workplace health and wellbeing many firms have yet to catch on to the clear business benefits. As part of our holistic work with companies, we at SME Strategies explore straightforward ways of helping firms strengthen this aspect of their business. We work with Suffolk Mind who are doing some great and pioneering work in this whole area.

Modern companies use new and exciting innovations and technologies to provide flexibility and help employee wellbeing. The attitude of our best firms is the underlying belief that it is people who drive success. The best companies strive to maintain a healthy and happy culture, and create environments in which everyone can flourish.

Richard Branson when asked ‘What advice would you give to a start-up trying to create a healthy and positive culture for their employees?” said this:

“There’s no magic formula. The key is just to treat your staff how you would like to be treated. People want to work on projects that mean something to them, and be surrounded by colleagues who treat them with the respect they deserve. If all companies took this approach then employee wellbeing ratings would be much higher.”

Our vision at SME Strategies is to bring this wisdom and tangible benefit to the everyday world of the SME.

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