Updated: Jun 24, 2019
As discovered in Part 1, it is hugely important to create a workplace that values mental health. Unfortunately, there is no quick fix or one magic sentence an employer can say to make employees feel like their mental health is valued.
As an employer, it is important to have a long-term strategy in place. Mental health is a difficult subject and employees won’t just be able to share when they have problems, if they aren’t constantly re-assured that it is safe to talk about it. Mental Health issues come with a stigma and many people are scared to be labelled and treated differently. Employees fear ruining their chances of future success and promotion within the company if they disclose mental health issues, and rightly so. Until recently very few spoke about or acknowledged the importance of mental health and New Zealanders often have a ‘toughen up’ attitude.
So what can you do?
Build the right work culture
In this instance, it is important to set the tone from top down. Encourage leaders within the organisation to share and talk about their experiences with mental health issues. If leaders talk about it, people are more likely to see that mental health issues aren’t going to stop one from achieving within your organisation. Regular one-on-one meetings between managers and employees is a must for any kind of conversation to happen.
Your managers need to be trained in communication and emotional intelligence. They need to know what to look out for, what changes need to be noticed and when it is the right time to talk to an employee about any issues that may have arisen.
Eliminate work-related risk factors
As discussed in Part 1 of this series, there are a few things that can have a negative impact on employees, which the employer has direct control over:
· Creating suitable health and safety policies,
· Strong leadership and management (through ongoing training and reviews),
· Suitable communication,
· Autonomy for employees where appropriate and required,
· Suitable support for employees,
· Flexibility in work hours,
· Clear tasks, goals and objectives for employees.
Ensure your employees are aware of the resources available and know how you are willing to support them in case of mental health problems.
Knowing you have eliminated many of the problems that could be adding to the stress for an employee affected by mental health issues, lets you focus on supporting them with the right resources. Many workplaces have already taken action and are happy to share how they support their employees.
If you would like more advice, a simple call to 0800 bossed, will give you a great starting point to building a workplace that supports mental health.