The health of your staff is vital to the success of your business and that includes mental wellbeing as well as physical health. Read on to find out how to promote better mental health in your workplace.
According to mental health charity Mind, employers cite stress as the number one reason given by employees who take time off work. In Britain alone, around 70 million working days are lost due to mental health problems.
However, mental health is still very much a taboo subject at work and it’s all too easy to bury your head in the sand if it doesn’t currently affect your business. But it’s unwise to rest on your laurels; the Mental Health Foundation found that one in 6.8 people experience mental health problems in the workplace. The more employees you have, the more likely you are to employ people with mental health issues.
Start talking about it
According to Lynn Morrison, Portfolio HR Director with People Puzzles, prevention is far better than cure and employers need to be proactive. ‘My advice to any organisation is, if they haven’t started to look at mental health and wellbeing in the work place, is to talk about it and show you are supportive,’ she says.
Lead by example
In Lynn’s experience, it’s up to the senior team to lead by example. ‘I find that once you get people talking about it they get more and more open about it,’ she says. Whether or not you decide to run a workshop on the subject, mental health awareness needs a culture of openness to ensure that employees are comfortable in talking about it. ‘Asking if employees are okay should be a normal question to ask in one-to-one catch ups,’ says Lynn. ‘If you make it routine to ask, you can stop it being a big deal if an issue is brought up.’
Show your support
If you present your workplace as one which is open about being supportive of those with stress or mental health, Lynn points out that you’re not only reaching out to the percentage of your workforce who may currently be in that place, but you’re also talking to people who may need that support at a future point in their career.
Once people start talking about stress, you might see an increase of people coming forward, but Lynn sees that as a good thing. ‘You can’t manage it if you can’t see it,’ she says.
Look for warning signs – and act on them
Mental health charity Mind has an online leaflet which advises on how to spot the signs of mental distress as well as other measures that businesses can take to manage staff’s mental health.
If the stress is work-induced then managers need to show they’re being proactive – reducing it could be as simple as making small adjustments on a practical level, such as moving desks around or adjusting workloads.
Employee assistance programmes
Lynn recommends looking at employee assistance programmes as another preventative action to take. ‘They are great for small organisations; relatively cheap and give employees confidential support,’ she says.
If you’d like to introduce better mental health practices and procedures in your workplace, People Puzzles can help. Call us on 020 3239 3307 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.