How to Support your Employees’ Mental Health

Thankfully, most companies don’t have a work culture like that of Pierpoint, the fictitious finance company featured in BBC Two's racy drama “Industry”, but stress and poor mental health are becoming increasingly problematic for many organisations, the main causes of short and long-term absenteeism.

Stressed lady with head in hands at desk with laptop, books and mobile

The CIPD Health and Well-Being at Work Survey Report published in March 2020, recorded the lowest average absence rate of 5.8 days per employee per year, since the survey began 20 years ago. However, the report stated that Presenteeism (where people work when they are unwell) and Leaveism (where employees work outside of their contracted hours, or when on annual leave) had been experienced by most respondents, which could lead to more serious health issues for a company’s employees.

So, what measures can you take if you suspect you have a problem with absenteeism caused by stress and poor mental health within your organisation?

Firstly, you could conduct a Stress Risk Assessment to determine the underlying causes and arrange employee focus groups with managers and employees. Once you have identified all risks, you can put together a plan of action in the form of a health and well-being strategy.

If heavy workloads and management style are causing stress in the workforce, cultural change might be necessary, in which case you’ll need buy-in from senior management.

If your employees aren’t being managed effectively, you might choose to provide managers with relevant training, equipping them to deal with team members’ personal issues with compassion.

Where possible, you could introduce flexible working hours or home working, reducing employees’ stress by encouraging them to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

If Leaveism is a problem, remind employees that it’s OK to switch off at the end of the working day and when they’re on annual leave. The business won’t fall apart if colleagues are covering for them.

You might consider introducing an Employee Assistance Programme, which allows employees to seek professional help on a whole range of personal issues 24/7, including face-to-face counselling sessions, if required.

You could also look at introducing a Staff Discount Scheme (also known as Employee Perks) which will help boost staff morale and show that you are a caring employer.

This year’s COVID-19 pandemic has focused many HR Professionals’ minds on their health and well-being strategies. With the New Year rapidly approaching, now is an ideal time to put in place measures to support your employees’ mental health in 2021 and beyond.

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