With the spotlight being shone on mental wellbeing like never before, particularly in the workplace, it is becoming increasingly apparent that business leaders need to do more to support their people. But that begs the question: exactly how can employers support mental health?
In this article we’ll explore 8 ways that supporting mental health in the workplace can be achieved. But first let’s look at a few facts that should strike a chord with every employer.
According to the Mental Health Foundation, the UK’s leading mental health charity, 1 in 6.8 people experience mental health problems in the workplace - that’s 14.7% of employees. In addition, women in full-time employment are nearly twice as likely to have a common mental health problem as full-time employed men.
Meanwhile, evidence suggests that 12.7% of all sickness absence days in the UK can be attributed to mental health conditions.
Poor employee mental health is not only causing people to burn out and struggle with their wellbeing, it also costs companies money and contributes to a toxic work culture. And as a business owner, manager or Human Resources person, you need to take steps to address the issue.
How can employers support mental health at work: 8 ideas
Remove the stigma
Removing the stigma surrounding mental health and asking for help is a crucial first step towards supporting employees. Your people need to know that your organisation is a safe space in which they can ask for support if they’re struggling.
This can be achieved in a number of ways including training management to better handle employees who approach them with a problem, as well as ensuring that the company as a whole is committed to eliminating any kind of shame that may be associated with seeking assistance.
At PUSH, our Safe Space sessions packs for both managers and employees have been designed to help staff at all levels talk openly and authentically about their mental health at work and are a great way to get the ball rolling.
Make sure there is work-life balance
Ever since the pandemic caused the exponential growth in remote or hybrid working models, our relationship with work-life balance has become even more complex.
Data from the Office of National Statistics shows that in Spring of this year 38% of working adults reported having worked from home at some point over the previous seven days. But remote workers can struggle to switch off as the boundaries between office and home become blurred.
So how can employers support mental health in remote workers?
As you would in the office, you still need to ensure people are taking adequate lunch breaks, using their holiday allowance, and not working overly long days or at weekends. Managers also need to respect employees’ personal lives and refrain from contacting them out of hours.
Not sure where to start? Our workshops will help you and your people adapt to the new way of working.
Ensure managers aren’t micromanaging
When some or all of a workforce is working remotely, there is a tendency for some leaders to become micromanagers in an attempt to keep track of employees who they can’t physically see.
But micromanaging can cost companies dearly with reports showing that one of the knock on effects of an overbearing manager is low employee morale. Indeed, being micromanaged is up there as one of the top three reasons why employees resign.
Part of supporting mental health in the workplace is ensuring that people are showing up to work each day with positivity and productivity on their agendas - not a lack of enthusiasm and disengagement.
Nip micromanaging in the bud with PUSH’s 1-2-1 coaching surgeries which will help those who need it reframe their management style.
Appoint a mental health first aider
You have a person, or people, onsite who are trained in administering physical first aid should the need arise, so why not mental first aid?
A mental health first aider, or MHFA, is someone who is trained to understand mental health and the factors that can affect wellbeing.
They also have the practical skills that allow them to identify the triggers and signs of mental health issues and the confidence to then step in and support an employee who needs help in a non-judgemental way.
Our Mental Health First Aid workshop is an excellent place to start and will give your designated first aider the toolbox to support mental health in your workplace.
Embrace inclusivity and diversity
It is not enough to employ a diverse workforce. This isn’t about checking boxes and meeting quotas. It’s about creating a safe and welcoming place in which all employees can flourish, regardless of their race, gender, sexuality, physical ability and background.
Shaping a more inclusive future at work means working with people, not against them. It means making sure that everyone from your C-suite down to your interns understand that there is no place for racism, ableism, intolerance or any other form of discrimination in your organisation.
When we’re talking about how employers can support mental health, we need to be talking about everybody’s mental health - not just a certain subsection of the workforce.
If you’re worried that your company is lacking in diversity and inclusivity, one of our bespoke programmes could give you the PUSH you need to improve.
Improve your surroundings
Supporting mental health in the workplace can be as simple as taking a good look at your surroundings. Are your offices places where it’s a pleasure to walk through the door each morning, or are they depressing and devoid of any personality?
But before you start knocking down walls and adding ping pong tables into the mix, you need to find out what your employees actually want from their office space.
For example, a study by The Conversation found that the noise produced by employees working in an open plan office increases stress and worsens mood by 25%.
Ensuring there is plenty of natural light and utilising biophilic office design are ways that employers can support mental health but tread carefully before making any huge changes that could end up having a detrimental effect on your employees’ wellbeing.
Empower employees with technology
Showing your employees that you are committed to supporting mental health at work is crucial if you want to be seen to be doing more than merely paying lip service.
One way of doing that is making sure they have the tools to help them manage their wellbeing both while they’re at work and in their personal lives too.
That’s why we created the PUSH in Your Pocket mobile app. Think of it as a digital wellbeing trainer which works to keep employees on course with their goals whilst also providing them with continual guidance.
The app gives users access to in-the-moment exercises, courses and personalised recommendations in the areas of mental health, wellbeing, development and leadership and it works with both iOS and Android devices.
Promote physical wellbeing too
It’s no secret that physical and mental health go hand in hand, so if you’re looking for ways that an employer can support mental wellbeing at work, encouraging your people to be active has a crucial role to play.
Yes, subsidised gym memberships are always a great perk, but there are plenty of other ways of looking after your employees’ mental health by way of physical activity.
For example, lunchtime meditation or yoga classes will have a positive impact on employee mental health and walking meetings are also a great way to get people out into the fresh air and moving.
Not only that, but as a study by the Harvard Business Review found “...walking meetings support cognitive engagement, or focus, on the job. Those who participate in walking meetings are 8.5% more likely to report high levels of engagement.”
That’s a win-win for everyone!
Supporting mental health in the workplace: the next step
The first step towards finding out how you as an employer can support mental health is to find out just how healthy your workplace actually is.
The PUSH Mental Health Check has been designed to help organisations of all sizes determine where they stand when it comes to looking after their employees’ mental wellbeing. Best of all, the check only takes a minute of your time and at the end you’ll receive a personalised health score.
It really is that easy to get started on a path to a more mentally healthy working environment.
But what should you do if your Mental Health Check score is less than stellar? At the end of the check we’ll share some tips for building a happier, healthier workplace but if you’re dedicated to creating a more mentally healthy space for your employees, we highly recommend our workplace audit.
The audit is powered by people-led data and insights and uses tailored questions that are based on our four pillars of corporate wellbeing to help you transform into a more supportive employer.
Ready to get started? Register your interest by filling out our form and one of our experts will be in touch to provide you with more information shortly.
more articles by Cate Murden