Are you ready to talk about it?
We all know that mental health is a hot topic right now, even the Royal family are talking about it. I’m a huge advocate for breaking down the boundaries of this once taboo subject. However, I can’t help noticing despite all the lip service paid to the topic and the well documented cost poor employee wellbeing has, that very few companies are actually taking effective steps.
How do you create an open culture, one where mental health matters just as much as physical health?
They have estimated the cost on business alone, at a whopping £33-44 billion and have made some good suggestions as to their vision of what’s required in order to create a positive and progressive culture towards mental health in the workplace.
Just as it’s important to create an open culture around the subject, it’s important to realise that most people who are struggling with their mental health would quite frankly prefer to stick pins in their eyes than stand up and admit they are struggling to their boss.
It is really important to create a culture of openness in every workplace and creating that environment is actually very easy to do. There are lots of tips and advice offered online but, in my experience, there are four simple steps which prove to be the most effective:
Open up: If you or one of your senior management team have struggled at some point in their life and feel comfortable in opening up about it, it’s an instant way to break down the boundaries and make your staff feel comfortable about opening up too.
Create a mental health policy: A considered, and well written policy sends the message that it’s ok to not be ok, and that your organisation is there to support staff during times of need. It’s also good to point out that mental health matters will be treated in confidence and with the same level of respect and consideration as physical health.
Training: Bringing in an external provider to carry out a mental health training course is probably one of the most effective ways of helping staff. Not only does it send a clear message to your employees that you care, it can also have a positive effect on key issues for your business by reducing absenteeism and improve productivity. A good training course will take your employees and managers through; methodology to maintaining good mental health, managing stress, how to recognise the symptoms early on allowing you to support your employees before the situation escalates. And finally train your Managers on how to best support their team members who are struggling.
Create a healthy work life balance: Trust me on this one, do it right and it will pay dividends… Employees who take time to recharge their batteries are happier, healthier, more focused and productive. To create the right culture, you must lead by example and it must come from the top down. Set boundaries; make it clear that you don’t want to see anyone in the office after a certain time. Insist everyone leaves on time on Fridays, to make the most of their precious weekends. Offer flexible working patterns, ban emails between 7pm and 7am and don’t allow anyone to contact a member of staff when they are on annual leave. Make sure staff take their much-needed holiday allocation in full and actively encourage staff to take a break and get some fresh air at lunchtime.
Michelle@threedomsolutions.co.uk or 01274 866880