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Embrace HR Mental health awareness week

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.

#MentalHealthAwarenessWeek
#ConnectWithNature

If you would like to discuss this subject further, please contact Cecily Lalloo at Embrace HR Limited.

T: 01296 761288 or contact us here.

If you would like to receive our newsletter, please sign up here.

Based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Embrace HR Limited provide a specialised HR service to the care sector, from recruitment through to exit.

EMBRACING WORLD MENTAL HEALTH DAY

In a year of considerable change and uncertainty, we have to work harder to protect our mental health. As a HR Manager or Team Leader, your attitude and actions can also help the resilience of your team.

Every employee was recruited because they offered skills, knowledge, experience and potential that your organisation needed. In a challenging year, this talent should be retained and optimised. A team with good mental health is productive, motivated and able to make valuable contributions. So, what measures need to be in place to help everyone to cope?

Every Mind Matters

This year, World Mental Health Day focuses on providing support to people within the workplace. In this article, we particularly focus on Every Mind Matters. This NHS campaign focuses on the well-being of children and young people, so how is that relevant to your workplace?

Working Parents

Some of your team are likely to be parents. In the last 6 months, their children will have missed out on opportunities that should be part of everyday life. The closure of schools, clubs, childcare facilities and leisure activities has affected their ability to socialise, learn and develop.

There have been extra pressures on working parents, including home-schooling and childcare. The continuing impact of Covid-19 on their children weighs heavy on their mind. In a Public Health survey, 52% of parents stated that the mental well-being of their children was their biggest concern. Many wanted more advice on how to support their children.

You can help by raising awareness of the ‘Every Mind Matters’ campaign. The website includes online resources and advice for parents. In addition, there may be ways to establish support networks within your team. If possible, specialist training or group coaching could help address parents’ concerns. These measures will build the confidence and resilience of your working parents.

Workplace Apprentices

Your organisation may employ young people as apprentices or in junior roles. The start of their career is likely to have been disrupted by Covid-19, along with their home and social lives. To help them remain positive, motivated and productive, it is important to talk. Maintain regular communication that expands beyond technical training.

You may not relate to the issues faced by young people, but the ‘Every Mind Matters’ website has a section dedicated to young people’s well-being. It includes videos and links to charities who offer support.

Within the workplace, mental health can also be bolstered by the routine of work, good support from colleagues and recognition of the contribution they are making to the team.

The Return to Work

If employees have been working from home or furloughed, the return to work may be particularly stressful. With new procedures in place, it is another change to their routine that may bring mental health challenges to the fore.

Communication, care and collaboration will optimise physical and mental well-being during the transition. Our article on Work-life after Lockdown offers advice on how to minimise the impact of returning to work.

Solutions-focused Mental Health Support

As a company that values the mental health of your employees, it is important to develop a culture of empathy. Individuals need to feel confident that they can talk in confidence about the challenges they are facing. The priority for those involved in those disclosures is simply to listen. By that, we mean actively listen, without distraction.

The role of the HR Manager or Team Leader is not to diagnose or judge. The aim of any discussions should be on providing solutions-focused support. Signposting to relevant internal or external resources, such as ‘Every Mind Matters’, can be helpful.

#WorldMentalHealthDay #EveryMindMatters

If your organisation would benefit from additional HR support, please don’t hesitate to contact Cecily Lalloo at Embrace HR Limited.

T: 01296 761288 or contact us here.

If you would like to receive our quarterly newsletter, please sign up here.

Based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Embrace HR Limited supports business owners who do not have their own HR department or those that do but need help from time to time. We also work across the Home Counties of Oxfordshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, and also SMEs based in London.

Embrace World Mental Health Day

Make a date for World Mental Health day on 10 October to review how your organisation treats and offers support for mental health issues in the workplace.

World Mental Health Day aims to raise awareness of mental health and advocate against the social stigma associated with it.

It’s important for HR professionals and anyone who manages others at work to be aware of the issues surrounding mental health, so this is a good time for us to address the subject.

The cost to business

In 2018, the CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) discovered that poor mental health was the most common cause of long-term sickness absence in UK workplaces. It also learned that stress-related absence had risen in more than a third of organisations. Read more about dealing with stress in the workplace in our previous blog.

Mental Health charity Mind, meanwhile, found that one in 10 employees rated their current mental health as poor or very poor.

From a business point of view, mental health issues are expensive. Thriving at Work: the Stevenson-Farmer review of mental health and employers found that the ‘economic costs to employers, directly to Government and to the economy as a whole are also far greater than we had anticipated’. Analysis concluded that mental health illness can cost businesses between £1,205 and £1,560 per year per employee – a cost to UK business of between £33 billion and £42 billion a year due to absenteeism, presenteeism and staff turnover.

Culture change

Mental health is far-reaching, it covers issues such as anxiety, depression, OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), panic attacks, phobias, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and more.

The problem with mental health is that people can be reluctant to talk about it – particularly if they feel it will expose a weakness. They are worried that it could lead to them losing their job, being demoted, or passed over for promotion. Unlike a broken leg, others are not always so understanding about mental health issues. But you can help to change that culture within your own organisation.

Your responsibilities

Employers have duties under health and safety legislation to assess the risk of stress-related poor mental health that could arise from work situation and to take measures to control that risk. See the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) Management Standards [HSE: What are the management standards?] for more details.

The Equality Act also covers mental health issues under disability – even if the person concerned doesn’t consider that they have a disability, it is good practice to put things in place to accommodate them.

However, the law doesn’t always offer the best protection – the Equality Act states that a disability must be long term – 12 months. This may not be the case for some mental health issues, but it doesn’t mean they have any less of an impact on the employee.

Apart from the human cost of not dealing with mental health issues in the appropriate way, an organisation could find itself lumped with a hefty fine. For instance, it cost an NHS Trust £100,000 when they threatened a suicidal member of staff with legal action [Mail Online: Ex-NHS worker wins £100,000 payout after former bosses threatened legal action when he wrote to say he felt suicidal following his unfair dismissal 12/09/2019].

So for many reasons, HR professionals should be tackling this subject in the right way.

How can you help?

There are a number of ways you can support your people:

  • Work with line managers to develop their people management toolbox.
  • Train managers and employers to be aware of early signs of mental health issues. Make sure they know how to respond and where to go for help. The Mind website is a useful place to start.
  • Mental health first aiders – get willing staff trained as mental health first aiders, who can spot the signs of mental health issues – and sometimes just be there with a cup of tea and a chat. Find out more in one of our previous blogs.
  • Does your organisation offer counselling services? Make sure staff know how to access them.
  • Is the workload too heavy on some of your employees? This can lead to mental health issues if they feel under too much pressure. Make time to review job descriptions and workloads.
  • Make employees aware that your organisation promotes a healthy work-life balance. Employees who are drained and burned out are not giving their best to the company. Do you have a gym on-site or could you negotiate a special rate with the local gym for your employees?
  • In similar fashion, offer flexible working if it is an option for your industry. Read more on this in our blog here.
  • Promote work-life balance. If your staff work long hours and have no home or family life, they will burn out quickly. Make sure your organisation recognises the importance of a healthy balance.
  • Be aware of the risk of suicide and include it in the organisation’s health and well-being programme. Business in the Community’s suicide prevention toolkit is useful.

Find more help by downloading the People Manager’s Guide to Mental Health from the CIPD.

If you would like to discuss this subject further and how it could help your business, please contact Cecily Lalloo at Embrace HR Limited.

T: 01296 761 288 or contact us here.

If you would like to receive our quarterly newsletter, please sign up here.

Based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Embrace HR Limited supports business owners who do not have their own HR department or those that do but need help from time to time. We also work across the Home Counties of Oxfordshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, and also SMEs based in London.

Embrace HR Mental Health Awareness

How would you feel if your employees were putting their own mental health at risk in their bid to succeed at work? We look at how you can be aware of how workplace pressures can affect your staff and how you can help…

As May 13-19 is Mental Health Awareness Week, make this the time to take a look at the mental wellbeing of your staff.

How often do your staff work outside of their set hours? Is there a culture of ‘presenteeism’ in your workplace – where anyone who leaves the office at five, or works part-time, or has time off sick, is looked down on, or considered a slacker?

According to the CIPD, presenteeism has quadrupled since 2010 [CIPD: Presenteeism hits record high in UK organisations as stress at work rises 02/05/2018] and according to Personnel Today the trend is rising for employees to go into work when feeling mentally unwell [Personnel Today: Mental health presenteeism on the rise 10/10/2018], and yet more staff are taking time off sick.

What has come to light in research from wellbeing charity CABA, is that as many as three-quarters of HR professionals believe that making a good impression at work is having a detrimental effect on the wellbeing of employees.

Technology has a part to play in this – thanks to smartphones we are all available 24-7, at the end of the phone or contactable via email. And businesses can be guilty of expecting staff to check emails or take calls over weekends and evenings when they are not officially contracted to work.

Take a walk through your workplace after the official end of the day. How many staff are still in the office? If there are more than you expected, ask yourself why – ask them why! Being realistic, there will always be someone who has a deadline or a major project coming up who is likely to put in more hours, but this should not be the norm.

Encouraging this culture puts stress on your employees. They end up working late, maybe drinking to wind down after the day, or not having time to spend with family, exercise, or enjoy a hobby.

Having well-rested staff is only going to benefit your organisation. A well-rested team with a good work/life balance will perform better, be more focused and less likely to make careless mistakes. They are also less likely to suffer from physical or mental illness.

Think about how you can help your staff enjoy good mental wellbeing. Conduct a survey to find out how much they feel they must stay behind after working hours, discover how much work is actually done during that time, and why people feel they need to work past their normal hours.

Ensure that senior managers and line managers are on board and understand the issues, as they will have a great impact on preventing these unhealthy working practices.

Establish guidelines around contacting staff outside of working hours and when they are on annual leave.

Finally, work out whether there is a culture of presenteeism or if there are too few staff to deal with the workload. HR can be the champion of promoting a healthy work/life balance. Have some fun with it – maybe if working overtime through the week is an issue, think about introducing an early home time on a Friday afternoon, or as some companies do, turning Friday afternoon into a social downtime.

If you would like to discuss this subject further and how it could help your business, please contact Cecily Lalloo at Embrace HR Limited.

T: 01296 761 288 or contact us here.

If you would like to receive our quarterly newsletter, please sign up here.

Based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Embrace HR Limited supports business owners who do not have their own HR department or those that do but need help from time to time. We also work across the Home Counties of Oxfordshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, and also SMEs based in London.