by Gemma O’Connor, Services and Operations Manager at Peninsula
October 10th was World Mental Health Day which each year aims to raise awareness of mental health issues and to promote efforts that support good mental health.
As recent surveys continue to find that many people are facing unprecedented anxiety due to the cost-of-living crisis, it’s a pivotal time to support positive mental health in your workplace.
A happy and healthy workforce is foundational to the success of any business. That’s why it’s important to provide workplace support that supports your staff be the best they can be, professionally and emotionally. Poor management can lead to the neglect of staff, who will in turn then neglect their responsibilities.
Mental health is just as important as physical health. Therefore, prioritising employee wellbeing should be a top priority. So, let’s take a look at what employers can do to foster employee wellbeing…
So, what can you as an employer do to help staff cope with stress or other mental health challenges?
Practical wellbeing support
If an employee is suffering with mental health problems, it will most likely prove difficult for them to leave their issues at the door when they come into work. This often results in a domino effect of HR issues such as underperformance, burnout and absenteeism.
To support your team, it’s important to create an environment where your employees feel comfortable reaching out to you if they are struggling with mental health challenges. An effective way to achieve this is to put an Employment Assistance Program (EAP) in place and to promote it across your workplace.
An Employment Assistance Program (EAP) provides wellbeing support to staff in the form of:
- face-to-face counselling
- a confidential advice line
- accessible self-help resources
If employees are going through a tough time, either personally or professionally, the support of an Employment Assistance Program (EAP) can go a long way. Having an impartial person to talk to and a 24-hour advice line could be an important lifeline for someone who’s struggling with a mental health problem.
Policies which acknowledge employee wellbeing
An employee wellbeing policy recognises that your employees may sometimes encounter personal difficulties that can negatively impact their performance at work. As with the EAP, this policy should encourage staff to seek out support if they need it.
- This policy can include information on:
- support options available to staff
- flexible working options (if applicable)
- physical fitness options (if applicable) like discounted gym memberships or access to company sports facilities
- access to career breaks or sabbaticals
- tips on maintaining a positive work-life balance
Set up a financial wellbeing policy
As money worries are front and centre this winter, placing a focus on financial wellbeing would be timely. If your employees are struggling with the increased cost-of-living, you could set up a financial wellbeing policy. This could include:
- helpful resources on financial management
- advice on how to budget and where to look for the best deals
- details of financial support you offer
Your workers might not know where to start, so providing this information could help them start their financial planning journey.
And if your staff feel more in control of their financial situation, it’s likely to help them stay focussed and productive at work.
Consider flexible working
There are multiple benefits to introducing a flexible working policy. Not only can flexible working options increase employee wellbeing but they can also help both you and your employees save money.
Flexible working options can include:
- starting or finishing work earlier or later
- working compressed hours
- having access to flexitime
- being able to work remotely
- access to part-time or shared working options
As staff are all too conscious of rising costs, one current benefit of flexible working is saving money on transport. Likewise, with fewer people on site, your business may also be able to save money on energy bills.
As well as a cost saving measure, flexible working is increasingly desirable to job seekers to help them strike a good work life balance. So, not only can flexible work boost employee wellbeing, it could help everyone save money and help you attract new staff while giving you a better chance of holding onto existing employees.
If staff are cutting back on spending, they might be losing out on some of their usual social activity. So, it might be a good idea to think about setting up some social opportunities through work. A weekly board game or quiz night can be a cost-effective way to provide a social outlet. Or, if finances permit, you could provide some free drinks after work to provide your team with an opportunity to catch up informally.
Managing their workload
Excessive workloads rank high on the list of causes of work-related stress. Employees who are struggling with mental health issues often struggle to manage their workload. This can be especially stressful if they’re preoccupied with issues outside of work.
You can make workloads more manageable for staff who might be struggling by taking steps to:
- reduce the amount of work (you may need to reassign certain tasks to other workers)
- help them prioritise certain tasks and manage their time more effectively
Mental health issues often make people feel isolated. If one of your team is struggling, they might disconnect from work. This is why it’s important to check in with staff to see how they’re getting on.
If you notice an employee seems tired, unmotivated, and unproductive, you should check in to see if they need some support. If you don’t address any problems, you may suffer the consequences of that employee’s mistakes. If an employee is suffering from burnout, it could cost your business whether it’s a procedural mistake or a workplace injury. And if your staff don’t feel supported, they will look for opportunities elsewhere.