Maintaining your employee’s mental health is just as important as their physical health. Just because you can’t see ill mental health in the same way that you can see a physical illness or injury, it doesn’t mean that it can’t have a negative effect on a person’s well-being. This is why it’s so vital to keep your staff mentally healthy by supporting mental health in the workplace.
“Innovation goes hand-in-hand with failure. Therefore a company that wishes to tap into the creative potential of their staff must create a safe space for ideas to be generated and risk taking to occur. One way this can be done is by creating a playful workplace culture. When we are in a playful mode, the stakes are dramatically reduced and people are more likely to contribute. This not only improves innovation, but is like giving a probiotic for mental health at the same time.” – Julian Lee, Education Specialist at Brainchild Academy
There are a number of things that can cause ill mental health, including bereavement, physical injury, and stress from work and areas of your home life. Mental illnesses and mental health issues can also affect your quality of life as much as a physical illness or injury. They can impact your mood and self-confidence, as well as make you unable to go to work or carry out tasks to the best of your ability.
“We know that employees routinely take mental health days as sick days, but we found that those same people often feel guilty or ashamed for needing a break when they aren’t “really sick.” By explicitly talking about and allowing these mental health days, we’ve found it removes the stigma associated with taking a day off for yourself.” – Matt Antonino, Head of Operations for Digital Eagles
According to the Government’s Department of Health, 1 in 4 people will experience ill mental health in their lives. As an employer, you have a legal obligation to protect the health and well-being of your staff, and this can be achieved by doing all you can to keep them mentally healthy…
“Workplace culture – the psychological climate and interpersonal territory has the potential to be highly supportive to mental health or at the other extreme quite toxic. Respectful and kind behaviour, predictability and personal responsibility goes a long way to create a psychologically safe space that assists the workforce to flourish.” – Michelle Bihary, Workplace Resilience
Educate your staff on mental health
This is because, put simply, the best way for businesses to destigmatise ill mental health is to be focal about their commitment to helping it. As ACAS advises, training should be given by a senior manager, HR professional or an external trainer, and this should be provided to every member of staff; not just team leaders and managers.
To promote positive mental health, employees should be given advice on how to identify if someone may be suffering from ill mental health, as well as how to approach and manage workers (if required) that need additional support. Every member of staff should be made aware of who they can confide in about mental health issues and rest assured that anything they share will be kept confidential. This will give them the confidence to seek help if they need it, as many employees fear that they won’t be taken seriously or that their problems will be shared with others.
Offer flexible working
Flexible working is one of the most desirable perks for employees. In fact, statistics from the website, Employee Benefits, show that 47% of workers would like to receive this benefit. As flexible working is defined by GOV.UK as “a way of working that suits an employee’s needs”, it’s not hard to see why it’s such a popular employee benefit. However, as well as being convenient for people that want to carry out basic errands during working hours (such as going to the hairdressers or dentist appointments), it can be invaluable for employees dealing with ill mental health.
The option to work from home, choose what times to start and finish the working day, and be able to compress working hours into fewer days can make it easier for workers to reduce home life stresses, such as finding someone to take their children to school and collect them, caring for an unwell loved one, and attending doctor’s appointments during standard working hours. So, if your business is able to offer flexible working, make sure your employees are aware of how to request it.
“One approach to re-energising and refreshing mind and body is providing people with real time out and an immersion into creative pursuits (accessing the right side of the brain).” – Jeremy Stone, Creative Cities 21
As well as flexible working, “Use perks and bonuses to keep office morale high.” – Aly Chi, Aly Chi Design
Schedule regular one-on-one meetings
As a manager, arranging one-on-one meetings with the workers you manage can be an effective way of ensuring their mental well-being. Not only does it give you an opportunity to highlight their recent achievements at work and boost their confidence levels, but you can ensure they’re not experiencing any work-related issues that could negatively impact their mental health. These include not feeling as though they’ve developed strong relationships with the rest of their team, or being overwhelmed by their workload.
As one-on-one meetings can be daunting for many employees, make sure you make it clear that their purpose is to get their feedback on your company’s processes and their workload, as well as provide some feedback of your own. To reinforce this idea, you should openly ask for feedback on how things can be improved within the business, record their feedback, and implement their suggestions where possible. This is essential for making employees feel valued.
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