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Employers have a duty of care to look after the health and wellbeing of their staff. Focusing on mental wellness and taking a proactive and preventative approach will shift mindsets and create a future where employees and employers alike can talk about mental health openly and honestly.
In a recent survey carried out by the mental health charity, Mind, involving over 44,000 employees, it was found that only 50% who had experienced poor mental health told their employer about it. So, what can organisations do to make a positive change?
Create a mutually supportive culture
Empathy and support in the workplace must push aside stigmas and the fear of speaking out about mental health. One in six workers in the UK experience a mental health problem each year, and as this is the main cause of sickness absence, employers must not ignore the important role they play.
By building a culture of support your employees will feel valued, resulting in increased productivity, raised levels of motivation, better innovation, greater efficiencies and fantastic employee engagement.
A healthy balance for all employees
Even the smallest of steps will boost the mental wellness of an organisation. But every step must be supported by the leadership team, and they too must adopt the steps and set good examples.
Managers who repeatedly come in early, eat at their desks, work late and even work when they have a streaming cold are actually doing more harm than good – not just to themselves but to those who look to them for guidance on how to behave.
Encourage your staff to:
Mental Health At Work Plan
In essence, a Mental Health At Work Plan creates a safe environment where individuals feel comfortable to discuss their mental health. Organisations who have such a plan in place are clearly demonstrating to their employees that they are valued and that they care about their wellbeing.
The plan must include:
Employees must be able to easily access the Mental Health At Work Plan. It’s good practice to place it in your staff handbook and on the intranet. Talk about it in your communications to make sure that every member of staff is aware that it exists and where to find it.
As with all initiatives, the best way to get buy in from your workforce is to ask for their input. If you are only now putting together a plan, tell all of your employees about it, why you are doing it and why their voice matters.
Mental health is everyone’s responsibility
The role of the line manager
Line managers have a key role as they are best placed to have a clear picture of what is going on within their teams. Should a member of their team be recognised as having poor mental health, the line manager is also best placed to help them cope and shape their recovery.
All line managers should be:
Where employees can access help
In line with creating an open and supportive environment it must be noted that ‘one size doesn’t fit all’. As such, all staff must be aware that they have access to several sources of help and information, for example:
The working environment
At the time of writing this blog, many workers are working from home due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, the principles remain the same as if they were in a physical place of work.
Our surroundings can also have an impact on our mental health. Here’s a useful checklist:
It’s good practice for line managers to ask their team members if they are happy in their surroundings and if not, work out ways to make reasonable adjustments.
The working environment as lockdown eases
As lockdown is easing and some employees are returning to work there’s a lot you can do to reduce feelings of anxiety.
Steps to take for employees with poor mental health
When an individual has been identified as needing extra help there are many ways you can support them.
The cost of mental health
Investing in your workforce’s mental wellness and taking steps to proactively support every employee will benefit everyone as well as improve your bottom line.
Did you know that poor mental health costs UK businesses between £33m and £44m every year? And this isn’t just through absence, it’s also due to presenteeism. Employees who don’t speak about their mental health and continue to turn up for work each day cost businesses too through their decreased productivity.
We’re Here To Help
If your organisation would like to talk to a HR professional about mental health in the workplace, please get in touch on 0161 941 2426.
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