Improving mental health in the workplace – what can a business leader do to make a difference?
Mental health is as important as physical health in the workplace – both in terms of their impact on individual health and business performance. The estimated annual cost of poor mental health to the UK economy is up to £99 billion, affecting workplaces throughout the country.
2020 has been a challenging and stressful year for many, and the mental health impact on the UK workforce should not be underestimated. Issues linked to social isolation, grief, bereavement and financial challenges have led to a spike in people reporting poor mental health.
Every business has a responsibility to promote mental wellbeing. This can be done by developing a wellbeing strategy, introducing anti-bullying policies, providing mental health information and promoting mental health initiatives. Employee assistance programmes can be provided, together with training for managers and occupational health support.
Business leaders have a role to play, too, by showing that mental health matters at every level of their organisation, and ensuring managers are equipped to support their teams. Actions can include:
- Introducing ‘temperature checks’ – fortnightly / monthly surveys on employee mental health to gauge how staff feel, and to ensure that they are being supported.
- Being approachable and available to colleagues, acting quickly in cases of conflict and bullying.
- Leading by example and creating a positive culture for your team – by taking lunch breaks and demonstrating a good work/life balance. Talk positively about issues relating to wellbeing and mental health and, if you feel comfortable, share our own stories and experiences. This will help to normalise mental health as a topic for discussion.
- Challenge negative comments or inappropriate jokes and language, which will encourage others to share their feelings. Try to listen non-judgementally, and react, rather than leading the conversation on wellbeing. Show warmth and be supportive, especially during these challenging times – but encourage the individual to seek professional help rather than trying to solve their problems yourself.
At Maximus we offer a range of effective mental health courses and training to support businesses of all sizes, including Mental Health First Aid and Mental Health in the Workplace training. Find out more here.