How to be mindful of your staff’s mental health
As the owner of a business, you might see it as your obligation to make a profit and – in these uncertain times – make sure the company survives. But you have a duty beyond that: one to your staff. They give their time for you, so you owe them some of your time too.
In recent years, we’ve seen discussion around mental health increase, which is something to applaud. So many mental illnesses can be silent killers because people don’t want to talk about them. In the workplace, they might not feel as if they can. So with that in mind, let’s talk about how you can approach mental health in your workplace.
Creating the right culture
As we said above, people might not be willing to open up about their issues at work for a variety of reasons. One might be because of the massive stigma that still exists. But another might be because they don’t feel the office is open enough for that.
If you want people to open up you, you need to create an environment where that feels safe. 30% of staff wouldn’t feel comfortable talking about stress with their managers. If they could speak freely, it could ease the burden on them, leading to fewer sick days and improved morale.
To make people feel supported, it can be as simple as starting with saying just that: you’re free to talk about mental health. Let them know mental health will be treated just as seriously as physical health. You (and your managers) need to seem approachable. Consider educating managers and above about the issue. Seek out local advice so you have somewhere to lean on when you need help dealing with it. After all, 56% of employers want to do more for their staff’s wellbeing, but don’t think they have the appropriate training. The more communication happening, the easier this issue is to fix.
How to show your support
Now you’ve opened the door to conversation, you need to know how to act when a mental health incident comes about. A key step is clearly laying out your mental health policy – what factors do you have in place? What is the process? What can an employee expect?
Always be open to their suggestions. They may have been dealing with this for a long time and know their triggers and coping mechanisms. There is no magic ingredient to being supportive: you just are. When we hear the term ‘mental health’ we often think of it as something grandiose and all-encompassing. That’s why taking their opinion is so important. All it might take to make their work life better is a simple change. An extra break here or some positive feedback there.
Also, be mindful of the fact change won’t happen overnight. Despite your best efforts, cultural change will take time to sink in and take effect. But rest assured your efforts to support your staff will be greatly appreciated. By taking their mental health into consideration, you are showing you care about their wellbeing more than their ability to turn a profit. And right now, some compassion is exactly what we need.
At Big Hand, we know the importance of putting people first. Your staff are humans, and every business could do with having a human element to it. If you would like any business advice about getting your company up to scratch, feel free to contact us on 0161 327 2911.