Mental Health and the Workplace
Recently there has been a lot in the news regarding mental health. The passing of Greg Boyed prompted an outpouring of tributes by his journalist colleagues. One, by Rawdon Christie, called for managers to take more responsibility for the wellbeing of their employees.
There are some important reasons to make mental health a priority in the workplace:
- In NZ one in five adults experience some form of common mental health issue in any year. Almost two in five adults have experienced a mental health issue over their lifetime.
- Employee health affects the workplace and the workplace affects the health of employees. It is important for employers to understand the difference between pressure, which keeps us all going and makes us productive, and stress, which makes unmanageable demands that damage both employees and the business. There should also be an awareness that life outside of work affects the wellbeing of workers when they are at work.
- Workplaces are legally required to take all practicable steps to ensure the health and safety of their employees. Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015, workplaces have a role to play in the prevention of harm to all people at work. This includes mental harm caused by work-related stress.
- A healthy work environment increases productivity and reduces employee turnover, stress, and personal grievance claims
- Workplaces feel the effects of poor mental health of employees through increased absenteeism and increased ‘presenteeism’ – when employees are at the workplace but not mentally engaged with work. It is estimated that on average, employees have nearly three times as many ‘presentee’ days as absentee days
Your role as a manager
It’s crucial that managers are equipped to act or know where to turn if they have concerns about the mental health of an employee. There are a number of onsite and offsite courses from a variety of providers that teach the basics of ‘Mental Health First Aid’.
In addition to crises management, it’s also important to consider:
- What support can and should you provide when an employee is struggling with their mental health?
- How will you manage misconduct or disciplinary processes when there are mental health concerns?
- How will you manage the return-to-work of an employee after time off due to a mental health issue?
Once you’re ready and prepared to support employees experiencing mental illness, then it’s time to consider how you can proactively promote mental health in the workplace. This might be as simple as organising a shared lunch, entering a team in a local sporting event, or organising a charitable donation for some of your team to deliver on behalf of your business. Check out five ways to wellbeing for employer resources, put together by the Mental Health Foundation.
Contact us to find out how we can partner with you to implement a mental health and wellbeing programme that suits the needs of your business and employees.