Although mental health is a topic that is in sharper focus these days, there are still many that don’t feel comfortable with addressing and discussing these issues in the workplace. According to one study, 60% of employees say they’d feel more motivated and more likely to recommend their organisation as a good place to work if their employer took action to support mental wellbeing. With this in mind, it is clear that offering proactive support and demonstration of their dedication to help with employee mental well-being should be a priority for any company.
Chris O’Sullivan from the Mental Health Foundation said “Prevention is key – we need to enable everyone to flourish, those in distress to access help quickly, and those who have recovered from mental health problems to stay well and enjoy successful careers”.
If an employee struggles with their mental health, it will impact their work, which will also have repercussions for employers. This may include reduced morale and a workforce turnover rise – no company wants this.
Fortunately, there are several really simple ways to help boost workplace mental wellbeing and encourage staff to feel confident discussing the challenges they face. Read on to find out more.
Remove the stigma
Mental health is still a taboo subject in many workplaces. In fact, the Mental Health Foundation has said 9 out of 10 people with mental health problems today still experience stigma or discrimination. This may include being offered less career development opportunities as well as criticism from others that they are unable to lead normal, fulfilled lives.
The work environment needs to be open and caring to help remove the stigma. To do this workforces can:
– Use internal communication channels such as notice boards and company intranets
– Get mental health champions talking openly about mental health at all levels
– Sign the Time to Change pledge to make a public commitment
The aim of removing the stigma is to create awareness, encourage acceptance and challenge false beliefs. Promoting good mental wellbeing can be of immense benefit to a company. Employees with good mental wellbeing are more likely to be more engaged in their jobs and have higher rates of attendance. This can also help to reduce the frequency and length of workplace absence due to mental health.
Encourage flexible working
For many these days, the typical 9-5 doesn’t work anymore – flexible working allows employees to work when is best for them. Mind, a UK mental health charity explained that flexible working gives employees “a better work-life balance, greater control over hours worked, a chance to avoid rush-hour crowds and peak travel costs, and the availability to attend medical appointments” – all of which are of utmost importance to those who face mental health.
The term flexible work can also include the location in which someone is working. If someone is able to complete their day-to-day job at home just as effectively as when they are in the office, is it necessary for them to travel long distances every day? A study of more than 34,000 British employees across all UK industries conducted by VitalityHealth with the University of Cambridge, RAND Europe and Mercer has found that workers with commutes of 60 minutes and over are more likely to suffer from depression.
If you are an employer, why not consider encouraging more flexible working, and giving your teams the tools to do so?
If you are an employee, why not try have this conversation inside your organisation?
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While for some remote and flexible working works, for others it may be a negative experience due to the feeling of isolation and fewer social interaction. It is paramount employers keep this in mind when making any changes.
Take on a personal approach
As our days get busier, it can be easy to limit communication to just emails and phone calls. However, this is a recipe for miscommunication. Employees want to feel respected and valued, so management should plan their teams in a way that encourages interaction not boxes people off. For example, it could be useful to have weekly one-to-ones between managers and their team members to help encourage individuals to talk about how they are feeling, whether it’s related to mental well-being or not.
Poor communication has been reported as a major cause of stress and productivity decrease in the workplace. By holding regular one-to-ones, communication will remain clear, effective, manageable and responsive by allowing individuals to voice their thoughts in a more informal setting.
Offer appropriate training
With one in four people worldwide affected in their lifetime by some form of mental health issue, it is paramount that employers, managers and employees can recognise the warning signs and support anyone experiencing mental health problems.
Since there is still a lack of awareness regarding mental wellbeing and many myths, employers should commit themselves to providing their workers with the right mental health first aid training. This will be a crucial investment for every business’ health and wellbeing. Mind has over 65 years of mental-health experience and knowledge. They offer a variety of courses and training sessions that can be delivered at your organisation if you’re located in England or Wales – find out more here.
Get the opinions of your employees
Good business progress starts from within. The healthier a team is, the healthier the business. Therefore, before taking the initiative to help boost workplace mental health, start using surveys to get the employees ‘ overall feelings and opinions on this area. By doing so you will be able to define main trends and goals that need to be discussed.
Now, more than ever is time for all businesses to stand behind their employees and help improve workplace mental wellbeing. A mentally healthy workplace will benefit not only employees but also employers, by creating a positive workplace that people want to work well in.
Microsoft 365 will provide workers with the right tools to work and communicate with their teams effectively even if they aren’t in the same location, all while retaining their mental well-being.