How to build mental health resilience in the workplace
Public awareness of mental health and wellbeing has never been greater. On television, in newspapers and online, there are daily references to mental health and its impact on people, employers and on society.
This is great news because talking about mental health is an important step towards really helping people. The more we talk about the subject, the less taboo it will become. However, we still have an awful long way to go.
Business leaders are taking this seriously too. Employers recognise the benefits of having a mental health and wellbeing strategy in place. It protects their business and it protects their people.
We believe there is a six-stage approach to building mental health resilience in the workplace. Put simply, the six stages are:
Identify risk: the baseline
The first thing that employers need to do is to identify whether or not they have a problem. A company may have perfectly happy employees, who are all fulfilled at work and who thrive on their daily challenges.
At the other end of the spectrum, a company may have a very negative culture, with high absenteeism, and with some of their people on the brink of emotional collapse.
The first step is a wellbeing risk assessment. Employers need to know what size the problem is before they can start to fix it.
There are many ways to identify the risk. The simple approach is to ask employees to complete a questionnaire about wellbeing and mental health at work.
Although questionnaires are useful, on their own they are not too effective. A better approach is to sample the workforce. A ten-minute interview with a trained counsellor will glean a huge amount of useful information. We recommend a sample of at least 1 in every 10 employees.
The output from the questionnaire and from the sampling will provide an accurate picture of the level of risk within the company. More importantly, it will show which areas need improvement.
Pledge support: the commitment
Next comes the pledge. Let's hear it from the boss!
A pledge, or policy, should be developed, specifically for wellbeing. The pledge should show commitment from top management and it should include something about early intervention and it should challenge the stigma of mental health at work.
Develop a plan: the journey
Armed with information from the baseline, it is now time to develop the strategy. The journey starts here.
An employee consultation group should be formed to help develop the strategy. This is your plan for improving the working environment. This is your plan to help your employees build resilience.
Our clients use our WELL strategy:
Champion the cause: the support
Training company Mental Health Champions and Mental Health First Aiders is incredibly important. Who do your employees turn to if they are in desperate need of emotional support? Company Mental Health First Aiders are there to help and to advise.
Every company should have at least one Mental Health Champion to every 50 employees.
Coach leadership: the change
Who 'controls' the workplace?
Undoubtedly, the MD or COO controls the company, but they don't control the workplace.
Line managers and supervisors control the workplace. They know their teams better than anyone else in the business. Ironically, these are the very people who can wreak havoc with mental health.
How many supervisors come up through the ranks, from the shop floor, into management? Probably most of them. Yet, how many of them have been trained in the people-skills that are so important in today's working world?
Supervisors can often go from being the technical expert to being an incompetent manager. Often, they just don't know how their own behaviour is impacting on their teams.
Supervisors and managers need to learn how to get the best from their employees, but in a safe and healthy manner. Therefore, coaching supervisors and managers in mental health and wellbeing is a crucial step towards achieving a resilient organisation.
Provide support: the counsellor
Employees should have access to professional support when they need it. A confidential Corporate Counselling service provides a trained counsellor to listen and help those in need of emotional support.
Corporate Counselling can help fix problems before they escalate into long-term illness.
If you would like further information on how we might be able to help your organisation build mental health resilience in the workplace, please contact us.
identify the risk
develop a plan
champion the cause