All employers have a duty of care to their employees — no matter how large or small the corporation may be. It can be difficult for smaller businesses to know where is best to allocate resources for mental health.
Despite having more resources to pool into mental health, staff working in medium to large companies (having 50+ employees), report much higher rates of work-related stress, depression, or anxiety than in smaller companies.
Remote working has changed the landscape of workplace mental health — being aware of this as a leader will help you to alter your approach. There needn’t be barriers to communication online — and virtual spaces can be used as a force for good.
Considering that in “2020/2021 stress, depression or anxiety accounted for 50% of all work ill health cases”, this truly isn’t something that can be swept under the rug. Those in senior positions should be pushing for change — and those at the top should be taking accountability for their workers’ mental health.
Even if you feel out of your depth as a senior member of staff, you can use your influence within the company to set up peer-to-peer support. This should never be used as a substitute for action — but can help to engender a more open culture within the workplace.
“Peer support allows colleagues to support one another outside of the line-management structure and offers a great way to maximise the range of skills and experience held within your organisation. Mentoring and buddy schemes can help new staff to understand your organisation faster, and can support all staff to gain confidence and develop new skills.” — MIND
We covered workplace culture surrounding mental health in part one of this post. If you want to find out what you can do as an employer, or what your employer can do for you with regard to mental health and well-being, read on for some helpful tips and resources.
If you’re in a senior position, sometimes it might feel like the pressure is all on you to help those working under your care. Though this may have some truth to it — no one person is expected to know absolutely everything, and there will always be issues that are beyond your capabilities.
It’s important, as a leader, to know where to turn when you’re out of your depths. Ask your HR department what facilities are available to staff internally — if you don’t have a Human Resources department, then ask above you. Knowing what’s readily available to you before a problem arises will allow you to act swiftly when one occurs.
Being in a position of power should never be taken lightly — and unless your company offers extensive training, it could be up to you to do your homework. Find out what services are available in your local area — be they free or paid, and have a database readily available to cover a wide array of issues.
You are, however, just one person — and to truly change a workplace ethos, this approach needs to be scalable. Encourage your superiors to offer training to all senior staff and managers — this approach will trickle down so that mental health is given priority at every level.
“Ensure staff is given information on how mental health is managed and what support is available as part of induction. Equality and diversity training should also cover mental health; for example, with a scenario exercise to challenge myths and prejudice.” — MIND
Weekly one-to-ones allow you to keep updated on the health and well-being of your employees. Throughout the week, problems may occur that might slip under the rug if left unchecked — even the smallest issue can snowball without frequent check-ins. We suggest setting up specific Rooms and Tables within a Space on Tevent where you can meet up with your employees at the same time each week.
Encouraging positive discourse around mental health doesn’t just mean asking people how they’re doing. We all communicate in different ways, so get to know your employees’ needs individually, and offer as many channels of communication as possible. MIND outline some key ways to promote healthy dialogue in the workplace:
“Staff surveys and focus groups/ staff forums and diversity networks/ engagement steering groups/ monthly or quarterly performance review meetings/ improvement or planning ‘away days’/ regular group problem-solving meetings or innovation events/ work-stream groups that bring together different parts of the organisation/ feeding back board decisions to all staff/ effectively using internal communication channels.”
They also outline myriad more ways in which you, as an employer, can break down stereotypes about mental health. We’re often taught to compartmentalise and leave our personal problems at the door. Though it’s important to maintain professionalism — we’re all human, and bottling up problems that affect us day to day may lead to tensions that needn’t be.
What’s more, with the increase in flexible and remote working, the boundaries between work and home life can become blurred. Encouraging your employees to change up their environment could be helpful — a gift card for a coffee shop or café could be the motivation they need to take their meetings out of the house.
“You could encourage your staff to work sensible hours, ensure they take full lunch breaks, and advise them to avoid working at weekends.” — Champion Health
Hosting talks and webinars with professional speakers can be a great way to open up the conversation. Scheduling these during work hours sets a precedent of importance, and shows the company that you take their mental health seriously. Optional breakout Rooms give employees a place to decompress afterwards and even open up if they choose to.
Life is all about purpose — so be sure to positively reinforce this regularly. Remind your employees of their value and worth, because everyone wants to feel appreciated, and that their efforts were worthwhile.
Offering training and development to employees reminds them that you are invested in their future. What’s more, giving them a path forward makes the future seem a bit less daunting — progression and projection will add to their overall satisfaction and fulfilment, driving them forward towards a tangible goal.
Try not to over-burden them, and be sure to involve them in conversations about their future with the company. Having a gradual and clear roadmap to the future will ensure they are working to achieve their goals without adding too much to their plates.
A great way to start this process is delegation — trusting your employees to take care of things will boost their sense of responsibility and ownership of projects. This could be a slow process, where you slowly hand them over as and when they’re ready.
There are so many more ways to boost employee satisfaction as an employer or manager — this really is just the tip of the iceberg. The world of work is changing rapidly, and we must alter our approach to mental health so that no employee is lost in the virtual future. And, if you’d like to try Tevent as your own virtual space to meet and grow with your team, all features are free, forever.
It’s about time we outgrew the teething pains of current virtual and remote solutions. Let’s start making remote fun, collaborative and workable for all.