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Workplace mental health: how to be caring, not just compliant

6th Jun 2019
Business Health and Wellbeing Services Provider
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Mental health support at work
Steve Debenport/iStock
Mental health support at work

Providing meaningful mental health support does not have to be complicated or costly for employers. By taking a simple three-staged approach to wellbeing, businesses can reap the benefits of a healthier, happier and more productive workforce.

The average person today is said to spend roughly a third of their life at work – so it’s no surprise that the environment we work in can have a huge impact on our wellbeing. In fact, the World Health Organization have stated that negative work environments can lead to both physical and mental health problems, and aggravate any existing issues an employee has.

We interviewed over 1,000 employees across a range of sectors and regions to understand the key issues surrounding mental health in the workplace, and the implications for both employees and employers.

The prevalence of mental health at work

Modern day pressures, combined with our ‘always connected’ lifestyles, make stress, anxiety and other mental health issues more prevalent today. And our survey revealed that the majority of employees (70%) have suffered with a mental health condition at some point.

Do you focus on being caring or compliant?

Despite this, less than half of employees say that their current employer offers a mental health or wellbeing policy.

All employers have a legal duty of care to all employees, mandating they take reasonable steps to ensure satisfactory health, safety and wellbeing of their employees at work. But relying on legal legislation alone can create a tick-box culture where employee support is limited to specific cases, and a lack of genuine care can be shown.

The result of this can be unresolved mental health issues for employees. And it’s employers who will bear the knock-on costs of absenteeism, lost productivity and staff turnover once they hit the bottom line. Almost half of the employees we surveyed would look for alternative jobs if their employer didn’t provide enough support around their mental health.

On the other hand, employers who show a real commitment to employees’ wellbeing will have a competitive advantage over those who don’t. Going the extra mile to support employees’ mental health is likely to build trust and loyalty, increase employee engagement and productivity, and contribute to a glowing company reputation.

And it doesn’t need to be complicated or costly. There are some simple steps employers can take to show their employees that they care.

Tips to become a more supportive employer today…

Our employer’s guide to mental health in the workplace includes a full report from our own research study, as well as strategic tips on how you can take meaningful action to support your employees’ mental health. Our three-staged approach helps you support your workforce before, during and after any health issues occur. Here are some of our tips:

Before

  • Create a culture of openness where Mental Health is normalised

  • Prioritise employees’ work-life balance

  • Create a mental health policy – a mental health professional can help your company do this

  • Provide mental health training to relevant members of staff, particularly line managers and HR departments

During

  • Offer a professional helpline or 24/7 EAP providing convenient access to qualified professionals

  • Make workplace adjustments and additional support where necessary

  • Allow time off for mental health issues

  • Be flexible with working hours, breaks and working location where appropriate

After

  • Offer a phased return after time off work

  • Work with employees to develop a tailored action plan

  • Continually prioritise their mental health – focus on maintaining it once they seem better

Download our free guide today to discover our three-staged approach in more detail, and how you can switch from being a compliant employer to a caring one, and see positive business results.

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