10 Ways Employers Can Support Employees’ Mental Health
Ensuring that your company has the know-how to support employees’ mental health is not “nice to have”. It should be an integral part of your people strategy and wider business objectives.
On a personal level, it is important to support your employees and colleagues in need, but from a wider business perspective, poor mental health support could have a catastrophic impact on your ability to operate effectively.
Why is mental health important for employees?
With 1 in 6 employees experiencing mental health problems, many companies are facing the issue of how to support employees’ mental health. This is also having larger repercussions on companies, with up to 12.7% of all sick days being taken due to stress, depression, and anxiety. When employers look after their employees’ mental health and wellbeing, engagement and productivity will increase, as will team morale and profits.
How to support employees’ mental health
In this guide, I’m going to discuss my top 10 ways to support employees’ mental health, covering everything from setting realistic targets, to recognising achievements, to ensuring mental health resources are available.
Recognise achievements and good work
This is perhaps one of the most important things you can do to support employees’ mental health. Regularly showing appreciation helps to boost morale and increase employee happiness. It can help employees feel proud of the work they do and feel secure in their job.
Everyone enjoys knowing that the work they do is important and valued by the company and recognising good work is a simple way to do this.
Set the example
It is well known that company culture is set from the top and filters down to employees at all levels. Many are unsure of how to talk to employees about mental health, but one way is opening up about your own experiences and encouraging others to do the same. This can be done through internal campaigns, communications and events.
Furthermore, by normalising mental health discussions in your company, you allow your employees to realise that they can open up to you and will be accepted and not judged by the wider business. One fear employees have is not having their issues understood or accepted by management. Consequently, if you make discussing mental health issues normal, employees are more likely to go to you for support.
Encourage annual leave and breaks
We all know that work can get busy and stressful. However, a major cause of burnout is not taking enough breaks. If you notice an employee has taken very few days off, it’s important to reassure them that taking annual leave is normal, and they won’t be judged for it. According to statistics from a key report last year, 88% of UK workers have experienced burnout. Of those who experienced it, 80% said that lack of work/life balance was the largest contributor.
Include wellbeing discussions in weekly catch-up meetings
One way to support employees’ mental health is by having regular catch-ups to give them space to discuss anything they may be having trouble with, whether it’s with work or in their personal lives. This is particularly important if you have a remote or hybrid workforce; prioritising check-ins and catch-ups is crucial. Although touted as a great way to boost flexibility, statistics show that remote workers can find it isolating. For example, a BBC article found that 80% of those working from home have said it has negatively impacted their mental health. Individuals can use the 1:1 meetings as a space to address any issues they are facing. Thus, making catch ups a crucial aspect of employees’ mental health support.
Invest in mental health resources for employees
If you are wondering how to support employees’ mental health problems, consider using an EAP (Employee Assistance Program). These programs often include free hotlines for employees to call or sometimes even free counselling/therapy sessions. Additionally, consider distributing a booklet of charities and organisations that can help support your employees through difficult times. This is a practical tool that your managers and team leaders can use when a need arises.
Utilise anonymous wellbeing or happiness surveys
A reason why a number of employers struggle with how to talk to employees about mental health, is because sometimes employees don’t want to open up in a meeting about the support they need. Anonymous surveys can help in these scenarios. They can identify potential pain points in your company. For example, from analysing the results, you can spot if there are common issues that most people are experiencing and address them. Failure to do this could lead to low morale and potentially poor mental health for individuals experiencing these workplace issues.
Include mental health training for all line managers
One way to ensure you can support employees’ mental health across your company is to include mental health training for all managers and heads of department in your company. Make sure that everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet and empower your staff on how to talk to employees about mental health and the best ways to support individuals who may be struggling.
Set realistic targets and expectations
Imposing high targets without offering support can contribute to elevated levels of stress and anxiety. This in turn can lead to burnout. Discussing targets with employees and helping them decide on a clear plan of how they can achieve their goals are just some ways you can help mitigate this stress.
Encourage work socials and team events
Inviting your team for lunches, drinks after work, or work trips can help increase team bonding. This is an important way you can support employees’ mental health, especially as statistics have shown that over 50% of employees feel lonely all or most of the time at work. Encouraging social events is one thing you can do to combat this issue.
If you have an employee who is new to the area, encouraging employees to spend time together can help limit feelings of isolation. However, be careful not to make it an expectation that employees attend social events, as this can also have a negative effect.
Create an action plan
If you have employees who are going through difficulties, make it a priority to sit down with them and discuss what support they may require in the workplace. Whether they need some time off, more flexibility, or help managing their workload, a judgment-free and compassionate conversation is integral to helping to support employees’ mental health.
VIQU is an IT recruitment agency that helps support businesses to secure top IT talent. Give us a call or send us a message, if you would like to find out more about how our services might help you.
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