As workers return to the office, mental well-being is more important than ever, as people adjust to their old environments. Shamira Graham, Director of Clinical and Business Operations and Cognitive Behavioural Therapist at Onebright, speaks to us about how employers can take care of their employees, by maintaining and investing in their mental well-being.
With a new year comes a new set of exciting opportunities, as well as challenges for every business – meeting set targets and goals, as well as improving organisational strategy and productivity. However, the mental well-being of employees and workforces shouldn’t be left to the wayside.
There is still a great deal of ignorance and stigma surrounding mental health issues in the workplace. Many people are uncertain about how to recognise a mental illness and how to respond when faced with it. This might result in unwittingly stigmatising behaviours and attitudes, meaning that those in need of mental health help and support do not receive it or may even find the workplace exacerbates their symptoms.
Those who reduce their investment in management training and workplace mental health support may be paying for it in other ways. This is not immediately obvious, as most organisations have no way of tracking or reporting on this.
For organisations that invest in supporting their people’s mental health, the return on investment is anything between £5 and £11 for every £1 spent. According to a survey, these figures come from a combination of increased productivity, performance, collaboration, reduced presenteeism, absenteeism and staff turnover.
Employers and business leaders who are open and have a willingness to talk about mental health with their employees is exactly the kind of support that so many people want and need at the start of the year.
Any company choosing to make mental health at work a priority within their organisation and looking to implement initiatives to promote good mental health should first measure what is intended to be improved.
Most organisations do not have appropriate mental health reporting arrangements in place. Consider the following questions as you explore mental health training:
We all have mental health and the mental fitness of your team is already impacting productivity, engagement and morale. Creating more understanding around mental health in the workplace and its impact can help drive the decisions being made, creating a positive culture and supportive interactions. When each person has optimal mental fitness, challenges become opportunities so individuals and businesses can thrive. Organisations that proactively manage mental health derive multiple benefits.
Here are some reasons why mental health training should be at the top of the agenda for every business this year:
- How could your team’s mental health be impacting your company’s performance?
- Are the staff championing mental health in the workplace?
- Would all employees know what to do if a mental health crisis incident occurred?
- How can you go beyond a staff survey to understand the impact of investing in the mental health of your people?
When we ensure we are effectively measuring the positive impact of mental health, organisations are in a much stronger position to direct initiatives appropriately to optimise that ROI. We also see that by effectively measuring and monitoring progress, we can increase that return further.
It raises awareness of mental illnesses
When employers implement mental health training, they normalise meaningful conversations around the most common mental health illnesses, such as depression and anxiety. Often, mental health is seen as ‘invisible’, but organisations have the power to transform how we show up for our colleagues, so no one must suffer in silence. When people feel comfortable talking about their mental health with others, they’re less likely to become disengaged or withdraw.
It encourages early intervention to aid recovery
Taking steps to prevent poor mental health from developing is more effective than waiting until people become ill. In troubling times where an employee needs additional support, employers must be equipped with the right skills to recognise the early warning signs and be confident enough to encourage professional help where necessary. By becoming more informed and aware, employees and managers can spot the signs sooner rather than later. This reduces the likelihood of mild symptoms becoming more severe and can make recovery easier.
It increases confidence in dealing with mental illnesses
From a survey we conducted in 2021, we found that 39% of employees aged between 18 and 29 are most likely to leave their job and move to an employer that provides better mental health support. If managers can have confident conversations about mental health without feeling like they may overstep their boundaries, they can reduce the risk of presenteeism, absenteeism and staff turnover. Finding that line between offering support and offering solutions can be more straightforward with training.
It reduces stigma around mental health issues
Someone with poor mental health may not realise it, making it harder for managers to address. Even if they do realise, they have an issue with their mental health, they may be reluctant to seek help or might not know where to turn for care. For an employee experiencing a mental health issue, your organisation’s informed and supportive response is likely to lead to a much more beneficial outcome.
Talent attraction and talent retention
Employees now cite mental health and well-being strategy and a positive people proposition as a top priority when choosing an organisation to work for. Prospective employees value organisations that have a cohesive programme for mental health training and place the health and well-being at the centre of their organisation.
Small workplace changes to support employees
Sometimes it’s the small things that make the greatest difference. Here are some ideas for how you can implement small workplace changes to support employees and promote good mental health.
- Add well-being check-ins as standard agenda items for team meetings
- Create a well-being page on intranet /shared digital space
- Outline the commitment to a healthy organisation as part of the onboarding and induction process
- Ensure that all employees are aware of the support services available to them and how and when to access them (this can be NHS services)
- Create a well-being ambassador network
- Host internal team/company events to align Mental Health Days, such as Time to Talk day, Suicide Awareness Day, Mental Health Awareness Week etc
- Explore whether individuals are comfortable sharing their experiences of mental health problems – this can have a huge impact on normalising mental health and destigmatising
Mental Health Champion
Enrol one person (or multiple people if you have a big team) to become your Mental Health Champion. All businesses have first aiders who you can go to in case of a physical medical issue, but many don’t have a Mental Health Champion who people can talk to and confide in. By providing peer-to-peer network support within your organisation, you are creating an environment in which the individual may feel more comfortable discussing any issues they may be having at work.
Why do managers need mental health training?
Training helps everyone from employers to executive leaders learn the tools for providing a mentally fit workplace that is good for business. There is an opportunity to learn about early identification principles, bolstered with CBT evidence-based interventions to support employees. This will help to remove taboos surrounding mental health, vital to early detection and future-proofing employee mental well-being.Click below to share this article