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What Is ‘A Wellness Action Plan’ And How Can It Benefit Employee Mental Health?

During the pandemic mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression, increased due to a range of factors attributed to working remotely.

Bupa research found that a third of UK adults think that remote working has negatively impacted their mental health, while almost a quarter (23%) say it has eroded their sense of self-confidence. 

Remote working has led to some bad habits sticking, such as: 

  • Not taking adequate breaks – causing low productivity and burnout. 
  • Staying logged into digital work systems – work and leisure boundaries disrupted.  
  • Limited interaction with colleagues – losing a sense of connection. 
  • Extensive video calls – leading to employees feeling drained. 

In response to this, companies are introducing a wellness action plan to support employees, helping to provide a better working environment to boost overall wellness and good mental health.

Managers are encouraging staff to be self-aware, open to conversations, and not be afraid to ask for help when needed. 

What is a wellness action plan? 

A wellness action plan is an evidence-based system that helps employees develop ways to support their mental wellness with their manager. 

Employees are given the opportunity to document the issues that may cause them to become unwell, along with what they believe helps to keep them well at work. 

This list is then shared with their manager or a nominated colleague.  

What are the benefits of a wellness action plan for employees and managers? 

Mental health issues affect one in four people at some point in their lives and can have a significant impact on wellness and working abilities. Mental health is one of the most common issues of long-term absence from work.  

Managers who use a wellbeing action plan benefit from a greater understanding of their employees—including finding out about their experiences and needs. This extra knowledge can help you to identify and adjust to your employee’s needs, within reason, and helps to create an open culture within your team.  

Employees who feel empowered to share what makes them happy and well in the workplace will feel more listened to and supported.  

As a manager, what should I include on a wellness action plan? 

To be most effective, a wellness action plan should be completely personalized so you and your employee can develop it together. The document should have open questions, with multiple answers they can choose from to help express how they’re feeling.

Example questions: 

  • What do you feel and act like when you’re well and happy at work? 
  • What do you find useful to support your own mental health and wellness? 
  • What wellness initiatives have worked (or not worked) for you in the past? 
  • What support or adjustments do you have in place or need? 
  • What might trigger poor mental health or stress at work? 
  • If you feel in poor mental health, how might this affect your work? (If at all) 
  • What steps do you take to manage stress or poor mental health at work? 
  • What support would be useful from your manager? 

How can I introduce a wellness action plan? 

Wellness action plans should be offered to everyone, including new starters. Check if your company already has a template in place. The charity Mind has an example WAP template that you may find useful.  

Set up a meeting with your team to discuss any plan ideas, including what it could look like and the questions you’re thinking about including. Encourage your employees to look at the questions and make any suggestions with anything that could be improved on to help it work best for everyone.  

Be flexible and don’t forget to review the plan regularly. 

Some further resources:

By Naomi Humber

Naomi Humber has been at Bupa since 2014 and clinically leads the mental health strategy at Bupa Health Clinics. She has worked in mental health provision for twenty years, mainly with adults of working age. She is passionate about supporting workplace mental health and well-being. Throughout her career, Naomi has championed the need for effective mental health support and care; whether that be helping people to stay well or to get well.

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