Mental Health at Work: How to Protect Employees from Risk
The workplace, often considered the second home for many, plays a significant role in shaping an individual’s mental well-being. That is why it is the responsibility of employers to ensure that the workplace is a safe and supportive space for every employee, colleague and individual.
Join HLS Training as we explore how organisations can protect their employees from the risks associated with poor mental health at work.
The Importance of Mental Health Training at Work
Mental health is an integral component of overall well-being, and it directly impacts an individual’s ability to perform at their best. When employees face mental health challenges, it can lead to reduced productivity, absenteeism, increased turnover rates, and a toxic work environment.
It’s clear that maintaining good mental health at work is crucial for both employees and organisations, but how do you protect employees from risk?
How to Protect Employees in the Workplace
1. Awareness and Reducing Stigma
To protect employees from mental health risks, the first step is to create awareness and reduce the stigma surrounding mental health.
Employees should feel comfortable discussing their mental health without fear of judgement or discrimination. This can be achieved through regular workshops, training sessions, and open dialogues about mental health in the workplace.
2. Supportive Leadership
Leaders play a pivotal role in promoting mental well-being. They should lead by example, and ensure team members feel able to approach them regarding any issues with their mental health, whether their home life is impacting work performance or they don’t feel supported in their place of work.
By showing empathy and understanding, leaders can help reduce stress and create a more supportive work environment for all.
3. Work-Life Balance
A key risk to employees’ mental health is an imbalance between work and personal life. Employers can encourage a well-rounded work-life balance by offering flexible working hours, remote work options, and paid time off.
Not only will it reduce stress and burnout amongst team members, but it can also result in increased productivity, motivation and attendance at work. It has likewise been proven that team functionality and communication improves amongst employees who feel heard.
4. Stress Management
High levels of stress can be detrimental to mental health. Organisations can implement stress management programs and techniques to help employees cope with workplace pressures. These may include mindfulness training, yoga sessions, or counselling services.
5. Communication and Feedback
Open and honest communication is essential.
Regular check-ins and feedback sessions can help employees express their concerns and needs. Constructive feedback and recognition for a job well done also play a significant role in employee well-being.
This could be approached during individual reviews, or be conducted as a team activity, but you should keep in mind that your employees might not be willing to open up in front of the wider team.
6. Inclusive and Diverse Workplaces
Inclusivity and diversity contribute to a positive workplace culture because a sense of belonging fosters better mental health.
Whether it’s through employee acquisition or by altering company policy to make the workplace more accessible for minority workers, one of the most effective ways of tackling mental health issues in the workplace is to create a company culture where all workers are valued, supported and encouraged to form practical, healthy relationships with each other.
Learn how to prevent unconscious bias in the workplace to address key issues, and ensure your employees are getting the best out of each other, as well as learning to better themselves in the process.
7. Anti-Bullying and Harassment Policies
Bullying and harassment are major risk factors for mental health declining in the workplace. Whilst companies may have strict policies against such behaviour in place, sometimes incidents can slip under the radar and lead to unhealthy office culture and a decline in the mental wellbeing of your employees.
To tackle these issues, you need to ensure that, alongside policy, your organisation provides a safe space for employees to report incidents. Develop a team environment, where gossip is unacceptable and make sure that you pay attention to the changes in behaviour that come hand in hand with harassment.
If you notice a team member withdrawing, start a conversation and make sure they know that they will not be judged or punished for discussing their experience.
8. Time Off and Mental Health Days
Offering mental health days as part of paid time off can give employees the opportunity to prioritise their mental well-being when needed. Sometimes, they may simply need a day without work on their mind to reset and bounce back.
9. Support Networks
Encourage the formation of peer support networks or employee resource groups where employees can connect with others who may be facing similar mental health challenges.
The value of speaking to another person who has experienced similar struggles cannot be underestimated, and knowing there is someone else within their place of work who understands what they’re going through can relieve pressure.
10. Training and Resources
Mental health is a topic that should be handled with a certain degree of sensitivity and understanding that is enhanced by effective, comprehensive training. That’s why educating employees as well as team leaders about mental health, and providing free access to resources is crucial.
This could include mental health first-aid training, employee assistance programs, support from HR departments, or access to mental health professionals and first aiders.
At HLS Training, we offer a comprehensive 16 hour Mental Health First Aid Course that qualifies Mental Health First Aiders (MHFAiders®) for your organisation. Our training programme is designed to help individuals spot the signs of a person experiencing poor mental health and deliver support when it is needed. Developed through an inclusive lens, this 16 hour course brings surety to your work environment, and gives you the freedom to focus on creating a workplace that thrives.