As the owner of a small business, you have a duty of care to all those who are working under you in your company. And that includes looking after their mental health.
From 2014-2015, “440,000 people in the UK reported work-related stress at a level they believed was making them ill.” That means that a whopping 40% of all work related illnesses were caused by workplace stress alone.
The mental health charity Mind conducted research which found that 30% of staff felt unable to talk openly with their line manager if they were feeling stressed, while 42% said that stress had made them want to leave their jobs altogether. But “by fostering a mentally healthy workplace culture and putting in place the right support, businesses, small and large, find that they are able to achieve peak performance.”
Here are three top tips for looking after the mental health of your employees:
Have open lines of internal communication
If 30% of employees feel unable to talk to their superiors about stress, then it’s clear that more businesses need to make an active effort to promote effective internal communication between staff members.
Your employees need to feel able to talk to you about any issues that might be impacting their work. In the same way that you’d encourage your staff you tell you if they are feeling too ill to come to work, as they could make others unwell or not be able to complete work properly, you must make yourself available to hearing about their mental health as well.
Easy Offices, a London serviced office provider, suggests that becoming an approachable boos means creating “open up lines of communication with people you don’t usually speak to. You can’t be approachable if you don’t approach anyone yourself.” By starting a dialogue, offering the opportunity to raise issues, across levels, you can make yourself seem more accessible when mental health issues arise.
Be supportive of staff with mental health issues
If you can create a safe space where employees feel they can open up about mental health issues, then you also need to know how to support them when they do.
One of the most common causes of workplace stress is “lack of support from managers” according to the NHS. So to help stop any stress or anxiety issues cropping up in your staff, you need to make sure you’re offering them the appropriate level of professional support with regards to their day-to-day responsibilities.
When a staff member does tell you they have a mental health issues, whether its depression or stress, make sure to reassure them that you’re here to help. A positive response can have a huge impact in their recovery. It can be difficult dealing with a delicate matter like mental health, so it’s wise to consider attending a mental health training course. They can be useful for all levels of management. It also shows suffering employees that you’re sympathetic and will treat them with respect should they open up.
Minimise issues by promoting a positive culture
Promoting a positive work culture is a great way to look after your employees mental health in general. An encouraging and bolstering environment in your office can not only increase productivity, but “research also shows that when team members are happy at work, they are better collaborators, work to common goals, and are more innovative.”
Improving the culture of your business doesn’t have to be a huge undertaking if you don’t want it to be. For instance, since research shows that laughter can reduce stress. Have lighthearted tasks, create after work social events to get staff to unwind. In smaller ways you can encourage this by making sure your staff take regular breaks. Research indicates that not only do brief breaks improve productivity, but they also “decrease stress, increase energy and often provide new insights and perspectives.”
Mental health is a serious issues and is not often dealt with in the office. But it’s a difficult issue for many to deal with. As a company or boss, you can minimise the chances of issues developing, while creating a supportive place to work, in a few simple ways that will help protect your employee’s mental health.