Mental Health at Work

One in four full time employees working in the UK suffers from mental health. This statistic builds a serious case for the need for businesses to preserve and protect employee physical and mental health.

Experiences of mental health can be different for each individual however indicators such as depression anxiety and stress are all classified as mental health issues. These affect the way the sufferer thinks, feels and behaves.

Within the workplace there is a stigma around mental health, with the perception that it is a ‘weakness’. As a result; mental health is rarely a topic of conversation and often employees do not feel confident enough to come forward and speak out that they are struggling mentally. (http://fitforwork.org/blog/mental-health-in-the-workplace/)

There are many causes for mental health issues. These could have started from a trauma or abuse from childhood or as an adult, alcohol or drug usage, financial issues, unemployment or work related stress, death of a family member or close friend, loneliness, trauma such as military combat or a serious accident or as a result of an ongoing medical issue.

The UK Office for national statistics stated that over 11 million working days per year are lost to mental health with cause factors including workload, family relationships, management style and relationships at work.

It is important as an employer to be able to recognise the signs that an employee could be struggling for example uncharacteristic aggressive behaviour, a dip in performance, and increase in absenteeism or poor time-keeping, a lack of interest in colleagues or social withdrawal as well as physical signs for example an increase in alcohol consumption or poor diet.(http://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/tips-for-everyday-living/work/#.V1bf2_krJhE)

The Health and Safety Executive states that work related stress can be managed through the following areas:-

Demands – this covers issues such as workload, work patterns and the work environment, and whether or not people feel that demands are acceptable.

Control – this relates to how much say a person has in the way they do their work, and whether or not they feel that they’re able to offer input or use initiative.

Support – encouragement, sponsorship and resources should be provided by the organisation, line management and colleagues, so that all staff members feel supported in their day-to-day role.

Relationships – relationships within an organisation are vital. This point includes promoting a positive work environment to avoid conflict and dealing with unacceptable behaviour appropriately.

Role – whether people understand their role and responsibilities within a company, and feel comfortable rather than conflicted.

Change – relating to how any changes are managed and communicated within an organisation

If a business can fulfil each of these stages, employee mental wellness should be high resulting in all round better performance and healthier happier employees.(http://www.samsltd.co.uk/managing-workplace-stress/)

This can be achieved via an employee benefits programme, ensuring that employee health and wellbeing is cared for by their employer by way of a medical insurance policy, dental policies or EAP for example.  Businesses could offer employees group risk so that in the event of serious illness the employee will not be left struggling financially and delaying the recovery time.

If an employer suspects that the mental wellbeing within the work place is suffering, then undertaking an audit on the working environment can help towards answering questions regarding a sensitive issue.

Regular one to one sessions with employees can help to contribute a working relationship where the employee understands the employers needs and can fulfil them. It also gives the employee the opportunity to talk openly and in confidence about areas of work that could be causing them stress or anxiety.

If an employee is diagnosed with mental health and is signed off work it is vital for an employer to have an action plan in place for their return to work. By implementing Employee Assistance Programmes, a company can help control stress levels by providing assistance on a range of personal issues that affect your employees. Reducing your employees’ stress and improving their quality of life allows your business to benefit from an increased level of employer/employee trust, improved productivity, and fewer lost days of work.

Other ways to promote a positive working atmosphere can be through encouraging employees to take their lunch breaks outside to relax as well as potentially offering gym or yoga sessions (these can be through a health insurance policy). Some companies chose to motivate their employees by having break-out rooms that might have a table tennis table or bring your pet to work days. All of these notions have the focus of keeping productivity and self-motivation high so as to meet financial business targets.

BDHL offers a broad range of methods to enhance your workforce with a bespoke benefits package to entice, motivate and retain the employee whilst ensuring the employer has access to the best available deal on the market. Get in touch with BDHL now and we can talk you through the various options available that could be suitable for your business. Call us on +44 (0)1892 891 900 or email enquiries@bdhl.co.uk