How employers can provide better mental health support
- 15 October, 2018 07:14
Our mental health affects every facet of our life so it's not surprising to see it become more of a priority for employers too. While many companies may want to champion wellbeing among employees it can be difficult to know where to start.
The case for promoting wellness in the workplace is obvious: it can improve morale, retention rates and productivity. However, despite more open discussion around the issue, 56 percent of people still say their company does not have sufficient supports in place to help employees with mental health problems.
It's important for employers to understand the need for creating a safe and supportive work environment for their teams. It's not a strategy that can be implemented in a short space of time but rather one that needs to be ingrained into every aspect of the organisation. There are no quick fixes but there are small steps that can be taken to improve the wellbeing of staff.
Building a culture that's supportive and nurturing requires a genuine investment in both time and resources. It takes more than just a 'meditation hour' or an organised run in aid of charity.
First and foremost you want your team to be comfortable in raising any problems or issues they may have. This means educating your management team on the value of an open forum. It also means creating a process where people having difficulties can share their experiences and be supported. Employers need to provide managers with sensitivity training so they're well-equipped to be considerate and tactful communicators. Research from Jobbio shows that 49 percent of people say their manager is the most influential support in helping them deal with workplace mental health issues. A management structure that promotes wellbeing among employees will result in higher job satisfaction, less absenteeism, better employee retention and lower health care costs.
A workplace that facilitates collaboration and discussion is good for the health. Employees are happier in an environment where they have positive social interactions, so structure the office in a way that allows staff to congregate and communicate. Shared working spaces and break-out areas are crucial - natural light, plants and pet-friendly policies help too!
Team sports can also be a great way to foster team spirit and work through any tensions that may have surfaced during the day - as well as being good for fitness! So get the company involved in the next tag tournament or football league, team bonding is good for the collective souls and an amazing stress buster.
Make a conscious effort to encourage healthy behaviours: a social gathering centred around alcohol or a pub environment can seem like the most popular or natural choice but it doesn't have to be. Endeavour to organise team outings that revolve around activity rather than beer. Offer reduced gym membership and fitness wearables as company perks or arrange a weekly fitness class such as yoga or aerobics. If that's not within your budget, there's plenty of other ways to be more health aware â€“ from having nutritious food options available to insisting employees take their breaks in full.
Recognise that work-life balance is becoming more and more important for today's talent and do your best to facilitate it. Studies show that after money, flexibility around working hours/days is the biggest incentive to stay at a company. Being considerate and respectful of your employee's work-life balance is crucial.