In a turbulent world, at a time where global issues and local problems compound, mental health should be a top priority within businesses.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists report that 1 in 6.8 people experience mental health problems in the workplace and 12.7% of all sickness absence days are due to mental health related concerns. Clearly there is work to be done across the board, and there are steps that can be taken immediately to somewhat alleviate these problems.
Develop a healthy work environment
An environment that takes wellness and mental health seriously is important, and fostering opportunities for those conversations to take place is key. This can look like putting regular one-on-one meetings in place and providing clear processes for approaching and dealing with the HR department. Regular workload reviews allow space for concerns to be raised and dealt with for the benefit of everybody. Above all, employees should be made to feel comfortable discussing any issues they are facing.
Meetings and surveys are a good way of gaining insight into the thoughts and needs of employees. Surveys can even be anonymous as an information gathering exercise to determine the positive changes that can be made within the workplace. With many employees now working from home, there are fewer opportunities to pick up on any wellness problems passively, so it’s important to actively address the issue.
Encourage work life balance
People need downtime! Some employees may feel that using their allotted annual leave is an inconvenience for their team and their management, so make it a priority that people use the annual leave that is available to them. Without time away from work, fatigue and burnout is inevitable. The same goes for lunch breaks, and regular short breaks throughout the day, especially if the role involves a lot of screen time.
An increasing number of organisations have adopted mental health days which allow employees to take paid leave on days when they are struggling with their mental health. The peace of mind of knowing that’s an option can reduce stress levels which negatively impact mental health to begin with. Flexible hours are also a good way of providing people the opportunity to fit their work around their lives, rather than the other way around.
Provide wellness education and training
According to BITC’s (Business in The Community) mental health in the workplace report, only 13% of UK line managers have received mental health training, despite 69% believing that supporting employee wellbeing classifies as a core skill.
Consider seeking out and providing specialised mental health training for those in managerial positions. By being better equipped to recognise and subsequently support mental health and wellness problems of colleagues as they arise, the entire team can benefit from a healthier work environment. On top of those intended benefits, according to the Mental Health Foundation, a side effect of better mental health services within the workplace has the potential to save UK businesses £8 billion a year.