Today is World Mental Health Day, an annual global campaign by the World Health Organisation which raises awareness for those suffering from mental health.
This year’s theme is workplace wellbeing. It calls for all businesses to openly talk about mental health issues and what needs to be done to make mental health care a reality for people worldwide.
Tackling work-related stress
The fast-paced nature of the modern workplace is often associated with long working hours, tight deadlines and increasing demands that can leave workers feeling worried, drained and overwhelmed.
While some workplace stress is normal, it can even help employees stay motivated and keep them on their toes, excessive stress can interfere with their productivity and performance, and seriously impact their physical and mental health.
As an employer, you have a legal responsibility to ensure the health, safety and welfare of your employee. This includes minimising the risk of stress (Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999).
Follow these 8 tips to help promote well-being throughout your organisation and tackle the cause of work-related stress.
1. Develop a mental health strategy
Your mental health strategy should detail how your organisation is going to help improve mental health and wellbeing for your workers. Include methods for taking stock of employee mental health, addressing mental health problems and how you are going to support your staff.
2. Review your current policies
Put policies in place to support staff when they feel they are feeling vulnerable. Consider policies such as health and safety, working time, sickness absence, return-to-work, bullying and harassment, redundancy, stress and personal development. As always, make sure staff are able to find and refer to your policies when they need to.
3. Normalise mental health
Reports show that, unfortunately, those suffering from mental health don’t feel comfortable about speaking out due to fear of being judged. Encourage your workers to speak out by creating a culture based on open communication and touch base with them to check how they’re getting on. Create space for workers to ask questions and raise issues, giving them the opportunity to talk about both professional and personal issues.
4. Take regular stock of mental health
To make effective progress, you need to first understand how your organisation’s mental health bears up. Collect information on worker well-being in areas of your organisations where there is a risk of poor wellbeing for example if time sheets show excessive hours or high absence rates, this could indicate a problem. This will help identify priorities for action.
5. Promote a good work-life balance
Increased working hours and a heavy workload can leave workers vulnerable to mental health problems as well greatly impacting personal relationships. Encourage your staff to take regular breaks and work sensible hours. Incorporate a flexible working policy to help take the pressure of those who have personal commitments that are hard to get out of, such as after-school clubs or elderly relatives who need caring for.
6. Promote positive work relationships
Sometimes it’s easier to talk to a colleague than it is a manager. Backup your policies by encouraging a culture of teamwork and collaboration. Use peer support groups, buddy systems or mentoring to help colleagues support one another and promote positive work relationships.
7. Foster employee engagement
The best way to get insight into how staff are feeling is to ask. Seek out the views of staff and listen to what they have to say to identify issues. Get workers involved in decision-making to help build trust and integrity amongst staff. When employees feel they are valued and supported, they have higher wellbeing levels and are more committed to company goals. This leaves organisations to reap the benefits of high morale such as innovation, productivity and profitability. A win-win situation all around!
8. Ensure people with mental health problems are heard
Mental health problems affect around 2/3 of the population, but many are suffering in silence. Raise awareness for those with mental health issues by including them in staff forums and networks. By promoting people’s experiences it will encourage others within your organisation to speak out and get the help they need.
Let’s support good mental health.
Join the movement
Follow the HSE’s Go Home Healthy campaign for information and guidance on managing work-related stress