Caring for your employees’ mental health in the workplace is an important part of building a positive culture in your organisation, and can help increase productivity, boost staff morale, and improve retention.
There’s a growing awareness in Australia around mental health and the workplace; however we still have a long way to go. Mental health in the workplace statistics show that while 91% of employers believe in the importance of mental health in the workplace, only 52% of employees believe their workplace is mentally healthy.
As an employer, a healthy workplace environment is key, so employees feel supported and know where to go if they’re suffering from mental health conditions. From planning to policies, training and programs, these ten tips can help you create a healthier work environment for your employees.
1. Conduct a workplace audit to identify practices that may contribute to issues around mental health in the workplace
By doing this, you can identify any risks or issues that need to be addressed in order to create a more positive environment, and begin to build your workplace mental health strategy to reduce or eliminate these.
2. Build a workplace Mental Health Plan
Your organisation should provide support to employees who may be suffering from a mental health condition, such as anxiety or depression in the workplace. By having a Mental Health Plan, you can create guidelines on how to develop a mentally healthy workplace, and make sure your organisation is prepared with the right policies, procedures and training to handle any mental health conditions.
There are plenty of templates to help employers build this, including guidelines for creating a mental health policy to help managers and employees understand and manage mental health in the workplace.
3. Create an Incident Response Plan to help employees understand how to manage mental health conditions at work
This can include a set of instructions designed to help managers and other employees identify signs of mental illness in the workplace, and understand how to respond and what actions they may need to take.
Employees and managers should receive training on this plan, as well as regular access to this plan in case they need more information.
4. Offer support and services to employees with an Employee Assistance Program
Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) are free and confidential counselling services employees can use to support their wellbeing, both at work and at home. By providing this in your organisation, employees will have access to the help they need to understand any issues they are facing, and the next steps they can take.
With your EAP, advocacy is key. While 81% of leaders say they have policies and practices in place to help employees suffering from mental illness in the workplace, more than a third of employees say they aren’t aware of these services or can’t access them. To counter this, regularly survey your employees to measure their awareness and the program’s effectiveness.
5. Provide flexible work arrangements to accommodate employees who are living with mental illness
Flexible work arrangements could help reduce the rate of absenteeism, which can often occur when employees are suffering from mental health conditions. These should be tailored to your organisation or to an individual employees’ needs and can include reduced or remote work hours, or additional paid or unpaid leave.