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  • jamesanstee

Mental health at work - What should employers be doing better

2020 has been a difficult time for everyone, but the general trauma of living through an economy upending, life-changing pandemic has been harder on some than others. Living with mental health difficulties can be challenging at the best of times, but especially in these unprecedented times, it’s more important than ever to prioritise your employees’ mental health. Here are some ways you can try and improve your employees’ mental health and support them through rougher times.

Talk to them This may seem obvious, but just remaining consistently engaged with your employees is a key way of ensuring their mental health is in check. Having catch up sessions with both teams and individuals can give you an idea of how they feel about their work environment and their work itself. While this can be difficult if a lot of your employees are working from home, it’s important to make an effort to show you care. While newer employees may be less willing to open up, making sure you’re in regular contact will able them to speak more freely if they are having any issues. This is especially important in the current work-from-home environment, as being cooped up all day may have exacerbated any existing issues. However, it is important to strike a balance in order to not seem overbearing, which can increase stress. You can also encourage employees to share their feelings in an anonymous way and discuss any issues raised in team meetings to try and put people at ease where possible.

Create procedures If an employee is having mental health issues, it is important to have a structured procedure for them to get the help they need. These need to strike a balance between structure, which will allow for the employee to know who they need to speak to and what steps are necessary for them to receive help, and a sense of acceptance and understanding, so they do not feel overly pressured by too rigid of a structure or a sense they will need to ‘prove’ that they are having issues. If an employee needs a day off and your company would usually require a sick note or similar ‘proof’, it may be time to do away with that requirement. It can be useful to have a dedicated mental health point of contact, perhaps within an HR team, which allows employees to ask for help without having to speak to someone directly superior to them which can add unnecessary pressure. These procedures should emphasise confidentiality, so the employee can feel safe knowing that their issues will remain private. This delicate balance of communication, anonymity and formality can be difficult to get right. Minc offers a variety of services that can assist you with getting this important aspect of HR right. Find out more here.

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