How employers can help to support staff’s mental health

Sunday 10th October 2021 was World Mental Health Day this year. Mental health is becoming a hot button issue today, and the stigma around mental health is lessening more and more. If you are an employer who manages staff, it is important that you are aware of the mental health concerns that may be affecting your employees.

What can employers do to help when staff return to the office?

The number one cause of stress in the UK is work, and British workers put in some of the longest hours in Europe, leading to a lot of stressed-out people. Furthermore, many employees who have worked from home for the last 18 months due to the COVID-19 Pandemic might also have anxiety about returning to the office in person. After having worked in the comfort of their own homes for such a long time, a return to the physical workplace can be a daunting prospect.

Therefore, it is important that employers create a positive and calming work environment and encourage an open culture where employees can voice their opinions and concerns.

Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is also important to ensure work-related stress does not become overwhelming. Requiring that employees take demonstrable regular breaks throughout the workday is an easy way to ensure that staff do not push themselves too far and burn out. The same goes for encouraging employees to use their annual leave to rest and recharge.

Employers can also provide staff with stress beating activities, like team building exercises and social activities courtesy of the company. These activities can build relationships between employees and allow people to feel as though they are valued and appreciated, feelings which are invaluable to the mental health and wellbeing of staff.

Advice for employers managing remote staff

It can be difficult to oversee employees who are working from home, and even harder still to check that they are coping.

There are a few things that management can do to ensure that remote staff are caring for their physical and mental wellbeing. For instance, remote employees can be encouraged to keep active and moving. Remaining in the same spot all day can become monotonous and stagnating, and not conducive to good mental and physical health.

Staff can also be encouraged to be mindful of the food they are consuming. Working from the comfort of your own home surrounded by the full contents of your treat cupboard could lead to an overindulgence of unhealthy food. Unsurprisingly, being unhappy with yourself physically can cause discomfort and poor health which can quickly lead to a mental health concern.

Another point is for employers to ensure that remote staff have a functional and practical work environment which encourages productivity in a safe and comfortable setting. Discomfort caused by an unsuitable work environment can lead to physical issues which, as above, can fast become a concern if it impacts on a person’s happiness and wellbeing.

Consequences of lack of mental health support in the workplace

A study by St. John’s Ambulance found that, during the pandemic, one in four people had left a job due to mental health and wellbeing issues, and 44% of people surveyed reported that they had considered leaving a job for the same reasons.

The last thing a good employer wants is to lose talented staff, so ensuring there is adequate mental health support within your business is the best idea from both an ethical and practical standpoint.

The most important advice would be to foster a healthy environment in which communication between employers and staff is encouraged, and employees feel that management is approachable and equipped to deal with any issues they may be having.

As always, if you would like any further information regarding above, please feel free to contact our offices by email