LAST week the government said that it wants to measure the country’s wellbeing, and not just GDP. But it’s not just politicians who should be interested in wellbeing, but employers and workers too. So how do you make work a happier place?

Dr Jo Perkins
Coaching psychologist, Orbit Consulting

Research demonstrates that psychological wellbeing is achieved through a combination of factors, which include satisfying relationships, realising our potential, having a sense of purpose, a clear life direction and defined goals. Clearly, work can play a big role in meeting some of these goals.

Therefore it is important to have a clear set of short, medium and long-term objectives, which ideally link to your life goals. This will ensure you are continually challenged and emotionally engaged. You will also benefit from investing in developing positive working relationships with colleagues where possible.

However, a note of caution – make sure that you do not confuse wellbeing with moods such as happiness and enjoyment, because pursuit of goals requires discipline and effort, which in the short term can result in difficulties and frustrations. Wellbeing is a long-term matter.

Therefore it is important to know and understand your unique responses to these frustrations so that you can tackle them quickly and regain control. This way you can stay focused on achieving your longer term goals and maximise your psychological wellbeing.

Dr Stefania Grbcic
Director, Flower Associates

A few simple steps can help build wellbeing into your working life. Firstly, when people are stressed, their breathing changes to a more shallow, less oxygenated style. If this is countered by deep breathing, the perception of stress is often reduced by 10-15 per cent. Breathe deeply and regularly 4-6 times in a row, taking approximately 15 seconds.

Also, watch your diet. A weak immune system can make you feel run-down and tired, so eat foods rich in vitamin C which boost the immune system. Celery reduces stress hormones too – and be sure to stay hydrated.

Aerobic exercise reduces stress – even taking the stairs instead of the lifts or getting off a couple of tube or bus stops earlier helps – and so does stretching. Take 30-60 seconds, stretch your arms, your back, your neck, and do some shoulder rolls. Stretching improves circulation and helps prevent muscle injury, as well as soothing your mind and body.

Finally, set yourself daily, weekly and future goals. At the end of each day, review your day and focus on what you’ve completed, then think of situations you are not too happy with. Ask yourself how you could do it differently next time, in order to move on and not ruminate on negative events.

Dr Brian Marien
Director, Positive Health Strategies

At any one time one in six of the working population has significant levels of stress, anxiety or depression. Stress is now the major cause of work absence. And the costs of presenteeism – working when unwell – is estimated to be around double the cost of work absence because of its impact on performance and productivity.

The health economics of wellbeing do stack up. Funding a robust approach to improving wellbeing will provide a healthy return on investment.

There are a number of individual risk factors for developing psychological problems but recent research shows how management style and the prevailing culture within an organisation can also have a powerful impact.

Organisations that want to understand more about the psychology of human behaviour are already investing in an integrated, evidence-based approach to improving employee wellbeing. The main focus is on prevention through delivering an integrated approach designed to raise awareness, increase emotional literacy, help recognise individual and workplace risk factors, reduce stigma, and provide education and training on proven tools and techniques that have been shown to improve psychological wellbeing, and increase resilience.