Work and Wellbeing · 30 July 2019

3 ways to tackle poor mental health in the workplace

mental health

No one breezes through life without experiencing some level of anxiety. In the workplace, 60% of all working days lost to illness are in fact, a result of stress.

Employers have a duty of care that spans beyond providing free tea or coffee and comfortable work chairs. If you have an employee who has recently taken leave due to stress-related issues, you may want to consider these three points to improve your workforce wellbeing:

mental health
As an employer, how open are you to the mental health conversation?

1. Have open lines of communication

A recent survey revealed that one in five people felt they couldn’t tell their boss if they were stressed in the workplace. Despite the fact that that we’re all talking about mental health more than ever, employees still feel a stigma about confiding in their bosses. This could be down to fears that they might be seen as ‘unable to cope with pressure.’

As an employer, it’s crucial to set the foundation for a healthy workplace environment by providing your workers with a safe space they feel they can open up to you in.

Creating an open environment at work can be as simple as a one on one meeting or even them shooting you an email.

The annual cost of poor mental health to employers is between £33billion and £44billion – arising from the fact the employees are less productive in the workplace but feel unable to take time off. Creating a work environment with comfortable discussions surrounding mental health means fewer employee absences, high productivity, and a more profitable business.

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Allowing for workplace adjustments to combat employee mental health is essential

2. Have efficient work adjustments in place

It’s within an employee’s legal rights to ask for leave regarding their mental health. As an employer it’s crucial you have reasonable work adjustments in place so your employee can carry out tasks in a way that reduces the impact of their condition.

Offering work from home options can often be a transition for many employees who are suffering from stress-related illness.

Providing these services can help ease your employee back into the work environment and slowly introduce them to new tasks at a pace that’s suitable for them.

Be a flexible employer

For example, if you have an employee who is suffering from an anxiety disorder they may feel that arriving later or earlier to avoid the rush hour commute will add less stress to their day. If your employee has returned after taking some time off, it may be helpful to set up a wellness and recovery action plan (WARP), to help your worker feel in control where they have steps in place if they need to take leave again.

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Allocating mental health training days improve the work overall environment

3. Invest in mental health training 

Only 30% of line managers have reported receiving mental health training, this hinders the process of employees recognising the signs of a colleague struggling.

But, a struggling colleague also means a slow down in productivity. In the business world, it’s easy not to value emotional training when there are so many corporate duties to complete.

Furthermore, there is a culture amongst employees who feel they do not want to attend mental health training days, labelling it a “waste of their time”, which draws them away from duties that they see as ‘more important.’

Many managers have reported feeling unprepared if they were approached with a situation regarding mental health. This is why having training days with professionals is so important.

These courses span anything from a quick 30min online awareness course to a two-day in-depth training session. Regardless, it’s important for your employees to have a basic understanding of how to help when their colleagues are struggling.

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Laura is the Junior Reporter at Real Business and Business Advice. She's the first point of call for any PR, business owner or industry insider looking to tell a story of entrepreneurial inspiration, retell some key advice, or a ground-breaking news story. She is the core ambassador for the brand(s) and can be found attending high profile events and meeting disruptive business owners across London – and beyond.

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