A report by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), published in March 2018, found that in 2016 to 2017, a total of 526,000 employees in Great Britain were suffering from work-related stress, anxiety or depression, which amounted to 12.5 million lost working days.
While it is important that employers ensure their workplace is a safe environment for employees, whether a building site, a shop floor or an office, there is also growing need for mental health and wellbeing to also be, and remain, a priority.
One way employers can demonstrate they are committed to ensuring the positive wellbeing of staff is through engaging the workforce in a corporate social responsibility (CSR) programme. By volunteering and giving back to their local community through positive social action, employers can provide staff with opportunities for team building exercises, encouraging positive social interaction away from the workplace.
In the case of environmental volunteering, employees have the opportunity to roll up their sleeves, get outdoors and, in most cases, change the status quo of their regular working day. Many environmental volunteering activities have an end goal, such as planting trees, painting benches or making physical improvements to an area; this can create a sense of positivity around a job well done, as well as provide benefits from being outdoors and doing physical activity.
Skills-based volunteering allows employees to support organisations and help others, such as assisting a young person to write a CV or giving career advice; these are all things that can help boost morale among staff.
CSR also provides opportunities for staff to work alongside each other, helping to forge new relationships throughout an organisation and fostering a sense of collective responsibility. Demonstrating a commitment to staff wellbeing in this manner can, in itself, instil a sense of appreciation and allow employees to help themselves while helping others and their community.
Joe McIndoe is partnerships manager at environmental and community charity Groundwork UK