Monday 10th May to Sunday 16th May 2021 is Mental Health Awareness week, an event hosted by the Mental Health Foundation, which seeks to raise awareness of the issues which affect 1 in 4 people each year. With the effect of Covid exacerbating this issue, it is more important than ever before that employers address how to address mental health in the workplace and support their staff.
Chris Gold from Workplace Mental Health Limited shares her advice on what employers need to be doing:
Just the words ‘mental health’ can raise the hackles of many employers. The words are usually associated with ‘doom and gloom’ and ‘opening a can of worms’.
Businesses often avoid the subject matter, preferring the stance of ‘no news is good news’. But with proven statistical evidence that 1 in 4 people suffer from a mental health condition it’s no surprise that poor mental health is the biggest cause of absence in the UK.
Forward thinking employers are already engaging with external organisations to ‘future-proof’ their business and safeguard the skills and experience of key staff members.
It’s time for employers to look at the cost of poor mental health in their business and to see the benefits of investing in good mental health
|Poor mental health||Good mental health|
|Toxic environments||Good corporate culture|
|High staff turnover||Good staff retention|
|Poor staff engagement||Highly engaged staff|
|High absence rates / health problems||Low sickness / absence|
|Loss in productivity||Productive staff|
|Re-recruitment costs||Attracts the best recruits|
|Legal cases for unfair dismissal||Happy staff / great atmosphere|
|Loss of key personnel and skills||Loyal, highly skilled staff|
|Burnout||Great career prospects|
|Damage to corporate brand||Great reputation|
|Lost business||Business growth|
Our research shows that the basic cost associated with poor mental health is £1200 per person. If a business invests in wellbeing and staff development the positive ROI can be as much as 9:1!!
Whilst Mental Health training isn’t mandatory, employers do have a ‘Duty of care’ to look after the physical and psychological wellbeing of all employees. The abolition of fees for legal cases against employers has opened the floodgates for cases of unfair dismissal. Cases siting poor mental health support and management are becoming increasingly common.
Where should employers start?
Wellbeing needs to be part of the overall business strategy. Staff will not fully engage unless the leadership teams are leading by example.
- Policies and procedures
The strategy needs to be reflected within a businesses, throughout the policies and procedures. A separate mental health policy is a good idea!
The organisation needs to introduce activities and programmes to develop a positive culture. Negative and toxic behaviour should be seen as inappropriate and unacceptable at all times. This should be monitored especially during supervisions.
Don’t forget to tell staff how you want them to behave! A Respect Charter is a great way to reinforce positive behaviours. Don’t let bad behaviour continue, it needs to be ‘nipped in the bud’ and not tolerated by anyone.
Communication is key! Methods and channels of communication must be clear and accessible to everyone. Learning to ‘agree to disagree’ and compromise are skills that we seem to be lacking in the modern workplace.
Say ‘thankyou’ when people do good things and always apologise if you say something that you may regret or may be taken negatively by a colleague.
- Develop skills
Leaders, line-managers, supervisors etc need training in mental health awareness to spot the signs early and support those needing help.
Developing the skills to ask the question and talk about sensitive issues don’t come automatically or naturally to most. Good basic training and professional development can prevent mental health from deteriorating and can aid a quick recovery.
There are many organisations that will help you to develop and implement wellbeing activities and programmes. If in doubt ask!!
- Remember – Happy staff are productive staff!
Investing in wellbeing and mental health is investing in your future. Your staff are your biggest asset – look after them and they will look after you!
Ignoring poor mental health doesn’t make it go away, it will catch up with you sooner or later!.