Research by the charity Mind confirmed that a culture of fear and silence around mental health is costly to businesses. In the UK, work-related mental health impacts cost businesses up to £26 billion every year, through reduced productivity, increase employee turnover and mental health related absences. It may be a taboo subject, however more needs to be done to ensure workplaces are mentally healthier. For a step in the right direction, here are five initiatives your business can implement today:
Stop the stigma
Conversation and openness is important. Yet, 30% of staff disagreed with the statement 'I would feel able to talk openly with my line manager if I was feeling stressed'. Businesses should create a workplace culture where people feel comfortable talking about their mental health. When people feel comfortable speaking out, concerns can be raised earlier and addressed more quickly. Lead by example and let your employees know, it’s okay to not be okay and instil that their mental (and physical) health should always be the priority.
Ensure employees and in particular senior personnel, are properly trained and knowledgeable about mental health in the workplace. Make sure employees can recognise the warning signs and know what resources are available to them. Consider appointing mental health first aiders and acknowledge that one group training session is not enough, continual training and improvement is needed to really make a positive impact.
Take a break
All too often breaks aren’t taken at work. Employees may choose to eat at their desk or work overtime. While this may be seen as productive behaviour it could actually be a sign that employees are overworked or stressed. In fact, more than one in five people agreed that they had called in sick to avoid work when asked how workplace stress had affected them. Even if it is just ten minutes sat in the canteen, a quick walk outside or reading a few pages of a book, encourage employees to give themselves some ‘me-time’ to break up the day.
Social interaction is something we all need, it can lighten our mood, promote a sense of belonging and boost morale. Try to provide opportunities for non-work-related interactions between your employees. Whether group coffee mornings, proving a space to eat lunch together or setting up virtual quizzes; spending quality time with each other is a great way to boost happiness.
Listen and act
Often, supporting staff members with their mental health is just about being aware. Listening to employees concerns and understanding their needs is a great start to making real and practical change. Ensure you are setting reasonable deadlines, providing suitable work environments, and taking a collaborative approach when planning by having regular catch ups with employees.
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