Better Workplace Mental Health

27 Better mental health and work

Why Develop Mental Health Strategies for the Workplace ?

In my last Blog we learned that many mental health problems, particularly depression, stress and anxiety, are extremely common in the workplace. We also looked at why companies are developing mental health strategies and delved into the facts, figures and statistics which outlined the costs in the billions of poor employee mental health. We proved that supporting good mental health in our employees is one of the keys to the success of a business.

As employers, we also have legal obligations towards our employees health and safety, which includes their mental health in the workplace.

Companies in Denial

Despite the above, almost half of organisations who rank stress in their top five causes of absence are not taking steps to address this.  In a recent survey around 40% of employees said that their company did not provide adequate policies or procedures to address their mental wellbeing during the pandemic.
The survey also asked employees if they had ever discussed their mental health anyone at work. More than half stated that they would feel uncomfortable talking to their managers about mental health, some 30% fearing that disclosure could lead to their firing or cost them a promotion. Other reasons for not articulating their concerns were non expectation of change and fear of judgement.

Companies can no longer afford to fail to support employees who are struggling. Transparency up and down the organization is paramount to creating strong culture. Without open communication employee struggles are unrecognized and their lack of productivity and desire to leave will fly under radar – giving the company no opportunity to address it until it is too late.

How to Effect Positive Change as an Employer ?

Some ideas are below:

– Allow all employees access to mental health self-assessment tools and self-management programmes

– Ensure that health insurance includes provision for depression medications and mental health counselling

– Create and distribute materials on mental health including brochures and videos on the signs and symptoms of poor mental health

– Provide mental health training including for managers to help them recognize signs of poor mental health in their team members

– Train and provide mental health first aiders

– Host seminars and workshops on depression and stress management techniques like breathing exercises, self-hypnosis and mindfulness

– Allocate quiet spaces for relaxation activities during breaks

– Give employees the opportunity to participate in discussions on issues in the workplace on mental health

– Provide hybrid flexible home/office working models to promote home/life balance

– Schedule check in meetings with employees


How to Empower my Employees to make Positive Change ?

Some ideas are below:

 Offer incentives to employees to learn skills to improve their mental health

– Appoint wellness champions on topics such as how to manage unacceptable behaviours and attitudes in the workplace as a way to help themselves and others

– Create supportive networking groups so that employees may share their mental health experiences with each other

– Encourage peer support and build and nurture face to face social connections

What Benefits Could I Expect To See ?

Research shows that every dollar spent on identifying and supporting workers with mental health issues yields close to a 500% return in improved productivity. Further benefits include:

– Reduced sick leave

– Reduced costs associated with staff turnover such as; recruitment and training

– Achieving staff loyalty and talent retention

– Improvement of morale and productivity

Conclusion

Poor employee mental health management has a human, business and economic cost based on illness, absence and underperformance. Positive feelings about work are linked with higher productivity, customer and worker loyalty ultimately leading to increased profitability. Therefore creating better workplace mental health through improved education, training and awareness is vital in creating sustainable business.

Success Stories Reported from Various UK Government Divisions

– Case 1 – reported a saving of 22 million AED equivalent in the first year of a combined initiative to tackle absence, musculoskeletal disorders and stress

– Case 2 – fall in stress related absence by 16% and a saving of around ½ million AED per year equivalent after delivering self-help stress management programmes

– Case 3 – 25% fall in new cases of work related mental ill health and absence after the provision of mental health self-help materials

– Case 4 – 30% fall in related absence and a return-to-work rate of 75% for people off work for more than six months with mental health problems after a mental health initiative on prevention, protection and intervention

– Case 5 – drop in days lost due to stress from 3.35 to 2.55 per employee in a single year after the provision of wellbeing strategy, information, training for managers and stress workshops

 

 

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