Our second blog of this series, Mental Health & Productivity, is all about how you can support mental health in the workplace. We’ll be looking into the effects of mental health in the workplace and how productivity is often one of the first things to waver.
The direct effects of mental health differ from person to person, which is what makes spotting an issue quite difficult, as it’s not always obvious. As an employer, it’s your responsibility to find a support system that will benefit the needs of all your staff.
Firstly, how can you tell if someone is suffering with mental health problems? Unfortunately, it’s not as clear cut as spotting one sign. You’ll need to look for a number of different indications, including behavioural, physical and psychological changes.
Here are just a few signs of mental health that you need to look out for in an individual, specifically within the workplace...
Short tempered - is your employee being more impatient than usual? Are they easily irritable and unengaged with other colleagues? If so, you may find that there’s an underlying problem and they’re taking out their stress at work.
Avoiding interaction with others - Have you found your employee isolating themselves? Are they interacting with colleagues and socialising during breaks and lunch hours? Obviously, some people simply prefer their own space – however, ask yourself whether this is out of character for that individual. They may be purposely avoiding spending time with anyone because their mental health is causing them too much distress in group situations or they don’t want to talk about how they feel.
Find multi-tasking a challenge - are your employees struggling to juggle their workload? If someone who is usually organised starts missing deadlines and forgetting tasks, they will most likely be thinking about something else, meaning they’re unable to focus on their responsibilities at work.
Increase in absenteeism - have you noticed your employees taking more sick days recently? For the first time in 2017/18, work-related stress of depression accounted for over half of all working days lost due to ill health. If you’ve seen a sizeable increase in days off, it may be worth you speaking to them to see if they have any personal issues going on – especially because many people still feel there is a stigma attached to mental health and will be reluctant to talk to you about it upfront.
How can you support mental health at work? Here are a few ideas to get you started...
Talk. As is the case with any issue, it shouldn’t be bottled up. We advise encouraging your employees to talk about their problems. Noticing the signs mentioned above could really prevent any worries from becoming long-lasting mental health problems in the future because it gives you the chance to help find a solution.
Introduce a dedicated counselling service to support your staff. Having a specific place for your employees to go and seek professional help will encourage them to talk and accept help. There are different types of counselling available, meaning you can reach out and support a range of needs in your workforce.
Flexi time is another way that you can support your employees. Offering alternative start and finish times can aid with childcare, which is often another pressure that employees face. Giving your employees the chance to choose when they work will help them be more productive and boost morale. You’ll probably find that some people can work their best and focus more easily at different times of the day.
Provide training on mental health issues. Often, mental health is brushed off and overlooked, something that is identified as a problem but then no solution is implemented. We suggest offering training to your staff to ensure everyone is educated on it and understand how to cope with it. Following this, appoint a mental health first aid officer, someone who is accountable for supporting your employees’ mental health needs.
Take the necessary steps to learn more from the experts. If you’re struggling to know where to start when supporting mental health at work, speak to charities such as Mind for advice and help.
Check up regularly. Mental health is an ongoing battle that can be with someone for years and whilst someone may seem like they’re doing well - it’s still important to check in on them regularly. We suggest setting up monthly one-to-ones to give your employees the chance to express any concerns both in and out of work.
Health and Wellbeing benefits offer employees access to services that can help prevent ill health and limit the effects on any business. Having a range of benefits that employees can either claim money back on everyday healthcare such as dental, optical and physio, and also wellbeing benefits such as counselling, Health Screening and much more, contributes to better employee health and a better performing business.
Be sure to check back for our third blog of the series where we discuss how healthcare cash plans boost productivity. For more information on mental health in the workplace, download our ebook.