Maintaining good mental health in the workplace is vital to having a happy, healthy and productive workforce. Our Workplace Wellbeing Consultant, Jen, looks at five ways you can support your employees and their mental health.
The one certainty these days is information overload and analysis paralysis. Too much data and too much choice. It’s very easy to got bogged down worrying about the perfectly right thing when sometimes the first right thing is to just start a conversation. People worry about knowing the solution and dare not approach without having a toolkit of answers at the ready. When someone is struggling at work, I think the most important thing is to notice and acknowledge it. The hardest thing is to see and hold someone’s pain and not know what to do. But you don’t need to know the solution, you can be alongside them to figure out the solution, one that suits them.
But you have to prepare for it because it will happen and perhaps out of the blue.
You ever heard of how depression is the curse of the strong? It hits the most loyal, most hard-working employees who try their best to keep up and keep going but eventually their body can’t cope and they are forced to stop. How do you pre-empt your best employee showing up with a note for long term absence due to stress?
3 out of 10 are so stressed they’re considering a new job
Could you afford a quarter of your staff to leave on mass?
Here are 5 points to consider to support the people you’ve already invested in:
1. Do you reduce stigma around mental ill health?
Both offline and online, how do you empower staff to have conversations about mental health? (Do you have genuine ‘how you doing?’ conversations?)
How do you demonstrate a commitment to reducing stigma(e.g. through a company pledge such as Time to Change)?
2. Do you provide information about mental health?
Both offline and online, what resources are available to staff to find out more about mental health and its effects (e.g. 5 Ways to Wellbeing and MindWell)?
Do staff know where to access this and can they get it freely without going through a manager?
3. Are staff aware of their legal entitlements regarding working conditions?
Do staff contracts of employment and induction training include information about their legal entitlements, such as breaks and holidays etc.?
Is this information elsewhere, e.g. staff handbook?
Do staff take regular breaks and holidays?
4. Is there a mental wellbeing policy?
Do you have a mental wellbeing policy and does it follow the principles of the HSE Management Standards for Stress (recognising the impact of demands, control, support, relationships, role and change)?
Do line managers understand the influence of these six Standards for Stress?
Can staff readily access this policy?
5. Are staff aware that mental health and wellbeing issues are valid and are they fully supported by the workplace to address them?
How has the workplace supported staff in the past? What were available interventions to support them, such as reasonable adjustments, flexible working etc.?
How is mental wellbeing supported at all levels? The mental wellbeing policy can include guidance to aid staff with mental health issues and guidance for managers on how to support staff.
These 5 points enable a conversation. Staff feel more able to speak openly and honestly about any challenges without fear of judgement or backlash. They have access to information to know where they stand and can approach their managers if they want to, whilst managers feel more confident about having these conversations as they have the back up they need.
These 5 points cover the Commitment levels of the Mental Health area for The Workplace Wellbeing Charter. As part of our support package, we provide templates, such as a mental wellbeing policy. To find out more about how you can meet these levels and other wellbeing areas such as Absence Management and Physical Activity, check out the free self-assessment.