6 ways businesses can support employee mental health

There were 488,000 reported cases of work-related anxiety or depression in 2015 to 2016, with 37% of those incidents caused by stress

In light of World Mental Health Day today, small business owners are urged to support and foster a positive workplace attitude to employee mental health.

This is particularly timely, give that a recent report has revealed how poor leadership can exacerbate problems of stress and anxiety.

According to the report by CALLCARE, there were 488,000 reported cases of work-related anxiety or depression in 2015 to 2016, with 37% of those incidents caused by stress.

45% of all working days lost were caused because of ill health related to stress –  though it’s suggested that smaller businesses may be better equipped to deal with employee wellbeing issues.

To help combat and prevent mental health problems among employees, business owners are advised to:

  1. Create a suitable office environment: Make sure your office is filled with plenty of natural light and isn’t too loud. Create communal areas where staff can socialise, build up a good team rapport, and create friendships.
  2. Ensure staff aren’t over burdened with work: Delegate work fairly and don’t expect too much of new staff early on. Have you considered out-sourcing any tasks that some team members are struggling with?
  3. Ensure staff take breaks: While you’ll naturally want your employees to work hard, make sure they know the importance of a healthy and balanced diet and work/life balance – and know when to switch off.
  4. Stay hydrated: Studies have shown that being dehydrated for long periods of time can have a negative impact on workers’ short-term memory, as well as inhibiting the way they process information.
  5. Invest in your management team: Make sure any managers are suitably trained and equipped to deal with employees who may be suffering. Mental health is a sensitive issue so make sure they’re compassionate.
  6. Keep your employees safe from bullying: Keep a close eye on staff and wipe out any bullying or intimidation immediately. Make sure all staff are aware that bullying is completely unacceptable.

Clare Lassiter, of Pure Human Resources, said:

“Workplace bullying is often a factor in work-related stress cases. Employers are well-advised to promote a culture where staff feel able to speak up against bullying.

“This can be facilitated by ensuring that the organisation has a policy on bullying and harassment that includes clear definitions of what bullying is, arrange training for managers on the topic, takes any bullying cases which arise seriously, and deals with them swiftly and confidently.”

For more comprehensive advice on how to make employee mental health a priority for your small business, view this guide.

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