Eight ways managers can support their employees’ mental health
Better mental health support at work will not only benefit the staggering 14.7% of your staff affected, it can save UK businesses up to £8 billion per year. Here are eight ways you can support your employees.
According to recent statistics, 1 in 6.8 of people are experiencing mental health problems in the workplace. And after the pandemic, the war on Ukraine, and the cost of living crisis, your employees have a lot on their plate right now.
Mentalhealth.org reports 12.7% of all sickness absence days in the UK can be attributed to mental health conditions. Besides this, poor mental health can have other negative impacts on your business, including lower productivity, absenteeism and presenteeism.
Reassuringly, employers can have a big impact on their employees’ wellbeing. According to an economic model, in a company of 500 employees where two thirds are offered and accept workplace mental health intervention, an investment of £20,676 will result in a net profit of approximately £83,278 over a two year period. For the same company, where all employees are given personalised training and advice, it’s estimated an initial investment of £40,000 will result in a net return of £347,722 in savings. So supporting your employees is not only good for them, when done right it also cuts costs for your business in the long run.
Signs your employees might need support
Depression, anxiety and generally ill mental health can reveal itself to others in unexpected ways. Here are some signs to look out for that indicate someone might be struggling:
- Agitation and restlessness. Difficulty in focussing on one task, jumping from one to another without fully completing any.
- Being uncharacteristically quick to temper, aggressive or short with colleagues.
- Lack of energy – taking longer to do certain tasks than usual.
- Purposely avoiding other people, meetings or calls. If working from home, a sign may be often being on mute with the camera turned off on Zoom calls.
- Not replying to messages or seeming distant.
- No enjoyment in things that normally bring pleasure.
- Possible increased alcohol consumption.
- Negative comments about self, or about feelings of helplessness. This could be in person or on a social media platform.
- Loss of confidence, seeking reassurance, unwarranted concerns about performance at work.
- Changes in routine including reports of poor sleep.
How to improve employees’ mental wellbeing in the workplace
It’s important to remember that everyone has mental health. And like physical illness, people can have poor mental health in one area, and good mental health in another. We need to be aware of the complexity of mental health in order to better support it.
Here are some things that, as employers and managers, you can do to support mental health in the workplace:
- Make it known that you treat mental health as seriously as you do physical health in your business, and give employees and workers the same consideration for mental health absences as you would for absences for physical health problems.
- Offer greater visibility for the whole workforce on how your business is performing. This will lead to a greater sense of trust from your employees. It may help them feel more prepared and less anxious about the future even if you are sharing less than positive news.
- Set up a regular catch-up every day, or several times a week if you haven’t already. Start each conversation talking about people’s lives outside of work. Regular social contact is the most successful coping strategies for mental health, so make sure your team are taking the time to enjoy each other’s company whether in person or virtually.
- Consider altering your benefit system to adapt to the times. Through signing up with a benefits and discounts provider, you can give your employees access to desirable perks and help them make considerable financial savings, thus reducing stress. Furthermore, it can help you to stand out as an employer of choice.
- Don’t underestimate the importance of work satisfaction in contributing towards people’s mental health. So make sure your employees’ days are structured and goal-orientated to create a sense of accomplishment.
- Put in place a recognition strategy to reward employees for hard work they’ve done recently. The process of nominating and recognising people will create a better sense of community, whether you’re working from home or are in the workplace. It doesn’t have to add cost – first and foremost people need to know they are appreciated.
- Many people are experiencing the same anxieties at the moment, understanding what your employees are going through and talking about it can make people feel less alone.
- Have you offered flexible working? Put simply, flexible working is about giving employees more choice over how long, where, when, and at what times they work.
If you’re concerned that someone you know is struggling
Employers, managers and peers have the power to help colleagues who are struggling. If you’re concerned about someone, the simplest and most effective thing you can do is strike up a conversation. Reaching out to someone and offering a listening ear can make a huge difference.
If your business has an EAP (Employee Assistance Programme) this is a simple direction to suggest to someone and it could help them secure professional help quickly. Otherwise you could point them towards helpful services, such as counselling or the Samaritans. However, if someone presents as an immediate danger to themselves or others, don’t hesitate to call 999.
If you are yourself affected by anything in this article, please do reach out to a friend, family member, colleague or a service like the Samaritans for support.