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Mental health in the workplace - Guest blog

by Laura Aucott

At HSE Recruitment, we know that the best Safety professionals don't just focus on qualifications but also soft skills. Combine that with the fact that mental health and well being is a topic of huge importance at the moment, and there has never been a better time to brush up on your mental health awareness and ensure that you are helping your workforce feel happy and secure.

With that in mind, we reached out to BrightHR for some tips on how best to ensure that we are all managing our mental health effectively no matter our role. BrightHR offer people management software to help automate time consuming HR admin processes, leaving you more time to focus on what's really important - people.

Over to you BrightHR!

Mental Health in the Workplace,

According to mental health charity Mind UK, one in six people are currently dealing with a mental health problem in the workplace.

Mental illnesses in the workplace aren’t just harmful to the employees suffering with them; lost productivity, reduced engagement and increased absences all have a negative impact on your business, too.

In this article, we’ll provide advice on how to help employees in your organisation who are struggling with a mental health condition, as well as detailing the laws in place surrounding the issue. We’ll also explain the importance of a healthy work culture and work-life balance when it comes to your staff’s well being.

Employment law and mental health

As an employer, you have a duty of care for your employees and there is legislation in place to protect their health and well being.

The Equality Act 2010 protects employees against discrimination based on a list of protected characteristics – one of which is disability. Mental health problems are classed as a disability if they have a long-term effect on the individual’s ability to work, or carry out everyday tasks.

The legislation dictates that you must make reasonable adjustments to the working environment or work practice to accommodate for disabilities. If an employee believes that you’re not meeting these requirements, they can initiate an employment tribunal.

 

 

How to promote a positive attitude about mental health in the workplace

Symptoms of mental health problems include anxiety, stress and depression. If a member of your staff is experiencing any of these, it’s important they feel comfortable enough to discuss their problems with you or their colleagues, without fear of being discriminated against. Sadly, in many workplace environments, this isn’t the case.

In order to encourage openness about mental health, consider taking the following steps

1. Understand mental health

As we established earlier, mental health problems are very common in today’s society. Ensuring that all employees, from management to delivery staff, understand mental health is a huge step in breaking down outdated stigmas and stereotypes.

Understanding mental health also contributes to higher productivity levels; employees who have positive mental health are more likely to be productive and engaged with their work, as well as having more constructive relationships with their colleagues and superiors.

2. Promote a healthy work-life balance

Working longer hours can seem like a good thing in theory, but over time it can lead to stress and burnout, which has a negative impact on productivity and engagement levels. Promoting a healthy work-life balance is essential in making sure employees don’t suffer these issues, both for their well being and your business.

Encourage your staff to take full breaks, use their full holiday allowance and avoid working over the weekend. Remind them that all time outside of their working hours is their time, and they should use it to rest, relax, spend time with their families and do the things they enjoy outside of work

Set an example – if you don’t need to work late, leave on time. If your employees see you leaving at the end of the working day, they may be more likely to do the same.

Another way to promote a good work-life balance is to introduce flexible working options to allow staff to have more control over the time they work and avoid stressful and expensive commutes, which can also contribute to low engagement and workplace stress.

3. Identify areas of high-stress risk

If left unaddressed, stress can lead to bigger problems such as anxiety disorders and depression.

Check in with your team at regular intervals to make sure their workloads aren’t causing them to feel overly stressed. If they are experiencing problems, offer solutions to reduce the burden. This will not only make life easier for your employee, but also help to reduce costs linked to absenteeism, reduced performance and staff turnover.

4. Breed a positive company culture

A good company culture is essential for employee happiness and productivity. A strong culture can result in lower burnout rates and higher engagement levels, which means your business will retain staff as well as attracting new talent.

To build a positive company culture, make time to listen to your staff. This will help to form trust, which can in turn increase engagement.

You should also provide ways for your employees to de-stress when necessary. Provide breakout areas for downtime, and promote activities such as taking a walk at lunchtime to ensure staff get fresh air and some distance from their work for half an hour or so.

Understanding mental health and challenging the stigma around it is imperative if you want to ensure strong employee well being. Following the tips above can help you to achieve this.

 

Following these steps above should really help you support your employees through out their careers, and make sure that they understand that they are valued, no matter the situation. For any more help or support; contact BrightHR or get in touch with HSE Recruitment to see how we can help you on your health and well being journey.
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