At Incremental, we never want our people to feel lonely or isolated. What are some of the measures we can, and should, take to ensure a healthy frame of mind?

As announced by the Mental Health Foundation, this year’s theme for Mental Health Awareness week is loneliness. Mark Rowland, CEO of The Mental Health Foundation says, ”Loneliness is something that we all feel at times but when it is chronic or long-term it can have serious effects on our mental health. We all have a part to play in reducing loneliness”.

As part of the People team here at Incremental, I believe it’s important to create a work environment where all our people feel included in the team and are able to ask for help and support if they are feeling lonely. For me, our connection to caring for ourselves, other people and our community is fundamental to protecting our mental health.

Combatting loneliness in the workplace

Having the entire team work remotely throughout the Covid-19 pandemic increased the risk of employee loneliness. It also raised the importance of staying connected with our colleagues, more than ever before. To make sure our people were prevented from feeling lonely or isolated, the People team introduced weekly check-in calls so that everyone could take time away from their days to connect with their colleagues and have chats about anything and everything, work and non-work related! This is a nice touch that has continued on as we have transitioned to a hybrid way of working, post-pandemic.

As an organisation, we operate our internal meetings with a ‘camera on’ approach, so we can feel more connected to whoever we are speaking to rather than constantly staring at a blank screen, and I think this creates more of a human connection. Also, rather than just jumping straight into the subject matter of a meeting or call, we encourage our people to have a quick chat about how they are and what is happening with them.

We are also now encouraging our teams to get together in person for a mixture of both business and pleasure. All work and no play is not always fun, so we want our people to be able to build relationships within work, but also to be able to wind down and get to know each other outside of the office/home.

Top tips for looking after your mental health

Personally, the most important things I have learned about keeping mentally strong are:

  1. Protecting my home time – it can be difficult to differentiate between work and home when I’m working from home, so I ensure I have a separate space to work and log off at a reasonable time. I believe this really helps me to switch off.
  2. Keeping in touch with friends and family – we all have busy lives so this can sometimes be challenging, but taking that time to connect with them really cheers me up and keeps me mentally strong.
  3. Exercising – I love the great outdoors so allowing myself the time to go for a walk, run or complete a workout really helps my mental, as well as physical, health.

mental health awareness

Taking time away from work

At Incremental, we encourage employees to use their holiday entitlement and take time off work. Even if it’s not to go away on a holiday, sometimes doing nothing can help recharge to avoid a burnout. We offer 34 days of annual leave (inclusive of all bank and public holidays) as well as enhanced maternity and paternity leave and unlimited compassionate leave. This means no matter what situation our employees are going through, they are supported in the time away from work.

But time away from the desk doesn’t just apply to designated days off. It’s important to break away from your desk during the working day, too. The shift away from traditional office working to more of a hybrid model, means more and more of us are still working from home. Due to the lack of commute and readily accessible home comforts, for many its become so easy to skip lunch and sit at your desk all day without a break. Some things you can do to take the time away from the desk include: calling a friend over lunch, sitting in a different room away from your desk or watching an episode of a TV show. I like to go for a walk at lunchtime to break up my day – this helps me to reset, focus and be more productive in the afternoon.

Supporting the mental health of our colleagues is important to us

We are always working on ways to support our employees. Incremental has a Health and Wellness Group which is dedicated to promoting good health for all our employees. This includes holding wellness sessions and organising fun activities for Incrementalists to get involved in. Recently, the Health and Wellness Group held a physical challenge where we walked, cycled, ran, swam, rowed or took part in any other form of exercise to see who could clock up the most miles. As much as the competitive element was a lot of fun, it was also great to encourage people to incorporate exercise into their daily routine.

Incremental also has a community of Mental Health First Aiders who are available to support our colleagues with any difficulties they may be facing. We have recently organised additional courses to train more Incrementalists and will continue to do so as our organisation grows.

This year’s Mental Health Awareness Week takes place from 9-15 May, 2022 and is an opportunity for the whole of the UK to take time to focus on achieving good mental health. For more information on mental health awareness week and where you can get further support, visit the Mental Health Foundation website.

mental health awareness