Mental Health Awareness At Work
It’s Mental Health Awareness week and after the year of lockdowns that we have collectively experienced, it’s important to take a look at ways employers can make sure their employees well-being is safeguarded. Last year, MHR the global HR company conducted a study in which they found that 53% of employees felt a lack of support from their employers in safeguarding their mental health during the first lockdown of 2020.
Slowly but surely we are finally regaining a sense of normality, but have managers and businesses learned anything from this challenging year in relation to supporting their teams better? The conversation of the past year has been heavily focused on mental health, but with the world potentially returning back to normal will new found attitudes and strategies towards mental health still be upheld? We take a look at the things both businesses and employees can do to create and maintain a healthy and supportive workplace.
Communication is not a one-way street. Employers and managers need to have a strong line of communication that encourages and gives employees confidence that they are able to share their concerns or issues. Staff members should be communicating their challenges and struggles to their team so as to find a solution, or some way of managing the issue. Managers can ensure that the right policies and procedures are set in place to help look after their employees mental health, however if these issues aren’t communicated by their people then an employer can’t do much to help the situation.
Be aware of the signs
As a line manager in charge of a team you do have some responsibility for how your teams is feeling. Keeping an eye out for signs of stress or burnout should be the norm.
Some tell-tale signs can be:
- An increased number of sick days
- Over-working with very little or no breaks
- Low performance results
- Behaviour that is uncharacteristic or poor moods
- Missing deadlines or being late
If you notice any of these signs consistently it’s important you act on it and start communicating with them. Try to work with them to find out what the source of the problem is. It can be any number of things from dealing with something in their personal life, feeling over-tired, or anxious. You should try and see if there is a suitable solution you can put in place or something you can change in order to alleviate some of the stress.
Yes employers do have some responsibility for their people’s well-being, however that doesn’t mean they are licensed experts. If you have the means as a company, provide resources for your staff to use when or if they need them. Just by doing that you may be able to provide them with the tools to resolve their problems independently.
You can provide them with a centralised source of resources with things such as links to well-being or counselling services that are free to use, affordable, or even provided by the company. There can be recommendations for classes, apps, or activities that might help them unwind and refresh after work.
Put in place fair and effective policies
If you’re encouraging good mental health among staff make sure that you walk the walk and not just talk the talk. By this we mean you should back up your attitude with procedures and policies. Sections on mental health should be included on your health and safety rules that lay out a process for helping struggling employees.
With the ever changing COVID-19 situation, your policies may need to adapt to address new anxieties such as ones relating to hygiene or travel for example. It’s important you ask your staff what they need from you as an employer to feel safe, supported and secure. And listen to them when they tell you. Try and ask them for feedback on new or existing policies so they know you are dedicated to their well-being at work.
Flexibility is key
Giving your employees flexibility on how, where and when they work could be very beneficial to their results and their well-being. Managing life around a rigid work schedule can be very stressful. If you give your employees more flexibility to continue working from home whether it’s for good, or part-time, and working when it best suits them or being understanding if there are changes to a work schedule because of unplanned events will likely make your staff more productive and happier.
Don’t wait until it’s too late and there is a fully-fledged problem before you check in on your staff. Make sure you regularly and consistently ask them how things are going, how they are. If you do so, your employees will know that they can bring their concerns and thoughts to you confidently.
Is there anything else employers can do to be more aware and safeguarding of their employees mental health? Let us know in the comments.