As we enter Mental Health Awareness week, we take a look at how supporting your employees can help with staff retention…
Mental health might be a bigger issue within your team than you think. With one in four adults in the UK experiencing a mental health issue at least once during their lifetime, you need to consider that a quarter of your workforce could be affected at one time or another.
Mental health covers a wide range of conditions – from depression to anxiety and personality disorders. And the ways to support affected staff can be varied and far-reaching.
Of course, nobody expects you to know how to treat these conditions, but supporting your employees can be beneficial, both to them, your wider team and to your company. According to the Mental Health Foundation, an alarming 70 million work days are lost each year [Mental Health Foundation: Mental Health in the Workplace] due to mental health problems in the UK, which in turn costs employers around £2.4 billion per year.
However, it’s not just about work days lost – employee retention is another key issue. According to research by healthcare provider Benenden Health [Benenden Health: Mental Wellbeing Report 2020] nearly half of UK businesses have seen an employee leave because their mental health isn’t supported.
If you have paid to train a member of staff, who is valued by your clients, losing them can be a real blow to your organisation. So it makes sense to offer support in order to reduce staff turnover and absence.
Your legal obligation
According to the Equality Act (2010) you, as the employer, should make reasonable adjustments for people with mental and physical disabilities, ensuring they have the same access to gaining and keeping employment as a non-disabled person. In this case a mental impairment is defined as having a substantial long-term impact on their daily life.
What can you do to help?
- Open the conversation: Make sure you send a clear message to let staff know that, should they discuss their mental health with you, you will be understanding and offer help where possible. After all, if someone came in with a broken leg, that is what you would do – and mental health issues are no different. If employees are too afraid to speak up for fear of discrimination, a reduction in hours or responsibilities, they are more likely to take days off or leave. To that end, it is also important to provide the opportunity to talk. When people are busy or perceive that their manager is too busy, they may not want to ‘worry’ them so remain silent.
- Keep it confidential: Your discussion about someone’s anxiety or other mental health disorder should go no further and you should make it clear that you will treat information in a professional manner. Employees who are worried that their colleagues will gossip about them, treat them differently, or resent any special treatment, are likely to be under more pressure.
- Show them the signposts: As we said previously, it is not your job to treat an employee who is struggling, but you can aid them by recommending that they seek professional help. Give them any support they need to do this.
- Listen to them: Don’t assume that one person suffering from depression will need the same support as someone else with depression. Everyone is different. Listen to them and find out how you can cut down on their stress in the workplace at least.
- Be prepared to make adjustments: They may benefit from a change in their shift or working patterns or responsibilities, while they are getting help. Try to make things easier where you can – such as re-organising their work to cut down on travel time or avoiding busy times, or by arranging for them to have support with their workload, training and/or 1-2-1’s. But let them lead the way on what help they need.
Aim to be part of the solution, not a part of the problem.
If you would like to discuss this subject further, please contact Cecily Lalloo at Embrace HR Limited.
T: 01296 761288 or contact us here.
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Based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Embrace HR Limited provide a specialised HR service to the care sector, from recruitment through to exit.