Supporting Employees’ Mental Health and Wellbeing
For many of us, we can class work as a major part of our lives. We spend most of our time at work and it is often the place that we make friends. Yet, there is always time in our lives that work can get on top of us, whether that’s due to deadlines or workload, or out of work problems such as health and relationships.
According to the charity MIND, 1 in 4 employees in the UK will experience a mental health problem. Given this, it’s important that employers take mental health seriously and address any existing issues, for those at risk.
It’s important to build a work environment where people can thrive.
As an Employer, What is Your Legal Duty of Care?
Each and every employer has a legal ‘duty of care’ to their staff that they must abide by, which includes the relevant health & safety and employment law. As an employer, your duty of care may require you to:
- Clearly define jobs and undertake risk assessments
- Ensure that you are providing a safe work environment
- Providing adequate training
- Give constructive feedback on employee performance
- Ensure that staff do not work excessive hours
- Provide areas for employees to rest and relax
- Protect staff from any bullying or harassment, from both colleagues and third parties
- Protect staff from any discrimination, from both colleagues and third parties
- Provide suitable channels of communication for employees to raise concerns
- Consult each employee on a one to one basis on issues which concern them
What’s more, if your workplace has five or more employees, you will be required by HSE to put in place an employee health & safety policy, and appoint a ‘competent person’ responsible for ensuring the business meets all legal requirements.
It’s important to keep in mind that a mental health issue can be considered a disability under the law if all of the following apply:
- Their mental health has a ‘substantial adverse effect’ on the life of any employee, for example, if they cannot focus on tasks of a long time, or it takes them longer to focus
- It lasts at least 12 months or is expected to
- It affects their ability to do their normal day-to-day activities, such as interacting with colleagues or following instructions.
As a mental health problem can be considered a disability, even if there are not symptoms all the time. So, as an employer, if an employee has a disability:
- You must not discriminate against them because of their disability
- You must consider making ‘reasonable adjustments’
It’s a good idea to work with the employee to ensure all the right changes are being made for them. Sometimes, even very simple changes can make a difference, such as:
- Allowing extra rest breaks throughout the day
- Working with them each day to prioritise their workload.
How Can You Improve Mental Health & Wellbeing?
We can all take important steps to improve our own mental health. These self-help strategies can both be practised by yourself or can be used to help others around the workplace.
Talk About Your Feelings
Talking about your feelings with someone you trust can help you to maintain positive mental health and deal with times when you may feel stressed and troubled. Talking about feelings is never a sign of weakness, and is all an important part of taking charge of your well being and staying healthy.
It can be hard to talk about your feelings at work, so having colleagues that you can talk to, or a manager who is open and asks how you are can make all the difference.
Regular exercise is a great self-esteem booster and can help you concentrate, sleep and look and feel better in yourself.
Exercising doesn’t just mean playing a sport or going to the gym. It can include going out for a walk on your lunchtime or a light jog in the morning before work. Experts say that most should do about 30 minutes of exercise at least five days a week.
What we eat can hugely affect how we feel. A balanced diet is not only important for your physical health but is also vital for your mental health.
It can be especially hard to keep up with a healthy pattern of eating when you work full time in an office job. Though, regular meals and plenty of water are very important! A great way to keep on track is by bringing food from home and planning your mealtimes.
What’s more, it’s important to try and eat away from your desk.
Keep in Touch
Relationships are a key part of good mental health. Working with a supportive team that you get along with is hugely important.
Try to make sure that you maintain your relationships with friends and family even when work is intense, as a work-life balance is vital. Experts believe that feeling lonely is just as detrimental to our health as smoking.
Ask for Help
No one is superhuman and everyone needs to ask for help at some point in their life. We all get tired and overwhelmed and often things may not go to plan.
Be sure to take the time to visit your GP and talk about how you are feeling. Over a third of GP visits are about mental health, so you are definitely not alone. Your GP will be able to suggest ways that your friends and family can help and may refer you to a specialist.
Take a Break
A change of scenery and relaxing are brilliant for your mental health. Even taking a five-minute pause away from what you are doing, can be enough to help you de-stress.
Take a day off for some ‘me-time’ so you have a break to look forward to, especially when you are stressed.
Sleep is also essential for good mental health, so listen to your body and give it the sleep it needs. Without good sleep, mental health can suffer and concentration can go downhill.
Do Something You’re Good At
If you have a hobby that you love doing, like gardening or crosswords, make time in your day to do it. Achieving something will boost your confidence and change your mood.
Accept Who You Are
We’re all different and it’s much healthier to accept who you are and your own uniqueness. Be proud of who you are and recognise and accept the things you may not be good at, but also focus on what you can do well.
Care for Others
Caring for others is often an important part of keeping up relationships with those around you.
Working life can provide opportunities to care for others, through vocational jobs such as nursing or care work, and you can simply be there for your colleagues.
Helping others is a great way to feel needed and valued, and boost your self-esteem.
How Can You Create a Supportive Environment?
When employers create an environment where staff will feel comfortable talking openly about mental health, it can be extremely helpful. Some steps you, as an employer, can take towards creating a supportive environment includes:
- Treating mental and physical health as equally important.
- Making sure employees have private one-to-one meetings with management, where they can raise concerns and talk about any problems they’re having.
- Encourage positive mental health in the office, by organising awareness training, workshops and even members of staff who can go and talk to when they need to do so.
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How Can You Support Your Employees Who Work From Home?
Encourage Healthy Workspaces
Employees should be encouraged to create a working area that’s away from other lounge areas. When we start working on sofas and blur the lines of working areas, we risk a bad work-life balance and bad posture.
Maintain a Routine
When working from home, traditional working hours don’t seem the same. This is why it is important to encourage your employees to stick to a routine that creates a boundary between ‘work’ and ‘home’. Suggest that your employees wake up at the same time they’d usually do and replace their usual commute time with a walk.
Showing that you care about your employees and their wellbeing is vital when they’re working from home. It can help reduce absenteeism and boost productivity. Offer benefits where possible such as online yoga classes, shopping vouchers and extra time off for relaxing.
Invest in Technology
The right technology can impact how your employees work from home, hugely. Providing communication tools such as instant messaging and video calling platforms can help your team keep connected and working together.
Keep Your Team Social
Chatting to colleagues can be a great way to relieve stress, yet when you’re not working in an office environment keeping social can be hard. Make an effort to keep up the communication between your employees in a social setting. Set-up quizzes or team games across video calls to keep up with the fun activities that would usually take place in the office.
Workplace Wellbeing Strategy
Workplace health and wellbeing can be complex, but by developing a cohesive employee wellbeing strategy can help a company be clear about their objectives and where they may need to prioritise some activities and implement wellbeing initiatives.
Plan Your Approach
Know where you are now, what you currently offer and your vision for the future.
Agree On Budget and Resource Needs
Review the data, costs and create a case to senior management if needed and priorities the strategy will cover.
Develop Your Strategy
Put all the information you’ve collected together, and identify the right interventions and benefits to target your priority areas. Make sure you know the key metrics and KPIs to measure to keep on track.
Launch Your Strategy
How and where will you communicate your strategy to employees? How will it be implemented?
Review and Refresh
Reflect how it is going. Use the data you have collected to assess how the strategy is working and what isn’t working so you can keep improving.
Employers' Liability Insurance
Employers’ liability insurance is compulsory by law for most businesses. As an employer, you will be responsible for the health and safety of any worker under contract at your business. So, if an employee suffers an injury or illness (including mental health-related) that they believe is your fault, they may try to claim compensation from you.
Ensuring that you create a supportive environment where your employees feel comfortable to both talk about their feelings and act upon them in a positive way is important.
Dover Street Insurance Brokers understands the importance of caring for your employees and therefore are happy to work with you to find employers’ liability insurance quotes which will suit you and your requirements best. To find out more, contact one of our team today by calling 0208 057 4130.