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Workplace Mental Health

14 Essential Tips to Support Mental Health in your Workplace

Do you hear everyone these days talking about mental health? It seems that everyone is affected by mental health issues in some capacity. Whether struggling themselves, or supporting someone else. Mental Health in your workplace is more important than ever. This article gives you some creative ways to support mental health in your workplace. Bonus information on why this is fast becoming essential today and for the future of your business or organisation is also included.

Hints to help your workplace

Building trust and relationships is the first step in any workplace towards a positive environment. Relationships are built or lost one conversation at a time. Managers finding an hour a week to walk the floor and chat to workers. Workers dropping into management for a few minutes just to chat.

Staff meetings where Toolbox Talks and regular mental health hints and tips are included and normalised as part of these will help to de-stigmatise mental health conversations.

Performing Mental Health Risk assessments and Hazard management with regular review will ensure best practice in relation to the new Psychosocial Code of Practice. Furthermore, it will minimise the potential for complaints and trauma amongst staff and management.

Changing the focus from performance management to well-being management plans and rolling this out across a business or organisation. Enabling staff to be safely able to disclose issues without fear of consequences from management.

Recognising good work, and giving praise face to face. Managers ‘catching’ workers doing the right thing, and praising work on the spot, rather than only acknowledging mistakes. Staff making time to praise management for what they appreciate they do well. Practising gratefulness across an organisation. Imagine that – a powerful cultural shift.

Promoting staff training in the mental health space. There are online, face to face options and team building opportunities in this space. Staff need to be able to do this training on work-time, not in addition to other tasks.

Undertaking conflict resolution and emotional intelligence training across all areas and levels of an organisation. There are many excellent training opportunities in this space.

More Hints

Being creative about supporting people in the mental health space – not just time off, but hours and workload negotiation. People often have their own ideas of what will work for them. Asking staff what supports or changes they need, rather than telling them, will go a long way towards changing mental health attitudes over time.

Ensuring staff and management take the allocated breaks during the working day. There is a dangerous culture in many workplaces of eating at desks, rather than pausing for a break, a physical stretch and a conversation away from screen time. This needs to change. It is not good for creativity, productivity or building loyalty.

Managing workload to ensure staff are not informally expected to stay after hours to complete tasks. Another dangerous expectation that needs to change.

Hold regular check-in meetings with staff and management to monitor stress and other concerns. In combination with wellbeing plans these meetings can be a great motivational tool and a means to build trusting relationships.

Create a quiet room space where staff can go to regroup, practice meditation or yoga. An excellent addition which will enable staff to acknowledge their struggle and work towards resolving things without ‘time-off’ as such.

Hold regular staff exercise and outdoor time. Sitting is the new smoking, and movement is proven to increase oxygen saturation, decrease the risk of blood clots and muscle atrophy.

Provide standing desks for everyone so that they have the choice to stand or sit. Ergonomic good sense, as once again, sitting is the new smoking.

Staff and management need to work together to create change and normalise mental health conversations. De-stigmatising mental health and understanding that people need support to recovery the same way physical illness is recognised and supported.

Why support mental health in your workplace?

Businesses creating a mentally safe and health workplace is good for everyone. First, it reduces the costs associated with high staff turnover, and worker absenteeism. Also minimising stress levels and improving moral. Equally important is normalising mental health conversations and implementing broad range support. Moreover avoiding litigation and fines for breaches of health and safety laws.

What’s more, staff conflicts can be reduced by training to provide an emotionally intelligent and resilient workforce. This will also improve mental health. This is vital to build staff loyalty by recognising their strengths and rewarding their achievements. Besides, research indicates that for every $1 spent on training in this space, the financial return to the business is up to $5. Clearly, worth every cent!

It is essential to examine high staff turnover and worker absenteeism through a mental health lens. Workers are increasingly seeking work-life balance. They may love their job, but they love their families more. That’s as it should be.

Often not recognised is that chronic stress and burnout are the reason workers resign from jobs. Even high paying jobs does not by itself foster loyalty because staff are increasingly seeking work-life balance. People are happy to work for less money if they gain this balance.

Businesses and organisations need to put people before profits by examining their processes for managing stress and burnout if they are to ultimately reduce staff turnover. Once people are looked after, the profits will come. A good reputation for a business is priceless.

Some stress is good for productivity.

While it is known that some stress is good for productivity, too much stress and unrealistic workloads create and cause fatigue and burnout. This is not good.

Secondly, it is the law. Since 1st April 2023 in Queensland, it is mandatory that all workplaces undertake risk assessment and hazard management in relation to the mental health of their business or undertaking. This can seem confusing, difficult and challenging for management but if culture is going to change, then change needs to start. Help is available for your business to translate this code and develop compliance and best practices.

Finally, developing emotionally intelligent workplaces with a resilient workforce will enable staff to manage their own behaviours, keep themselves mentally well and resolve conflicts more successfully. These skills can be learned.

Mental Health issues are common

Mental health issues are common and there are many ways mental health can be supported in the workplace. Managers and staff need to actively participate in changing the culture of a workplace. Stress and burnout needs to be managed and minimised. Realising that there is a problem is the first step in prevention or improvement. Mental health issues need to be recognised the same way physical health issues are.

Many people do not realise they can change, or that a problem even exists. They simply move on to another job, taking the same attitudes with them. Or, management believes salary and payment should be adequate reward for jobs, without considering the complexities and dynamics of a workplace.

People can change, with the appropriate training and support.

Why does mental health need to be supported in the workplace?

Initially it needs to be recognised that a person may develop mental illness prior to or during employment. Most people successfully manage their issues without it significantly impacting their work. However, their home and family life is most likely suffering.

It is often presumed that mental health issues step from person circumstance or situation. However, a stressful work environment, or workplace incident can actually cause, contribute or make worse a mental illness or issue.

Job stress and other work-related psychosocial hazards are fast emerging as the leading cause of staff turnover, burnout and long-term disability. Mental Illness can affect anyone. Depression and anxiety are very common in the Australian community. Some people have long-term mental illness, many may experience a single episode.

Australian Law requires the businesses and organisations meet clear mental health criteria to reduce the risk to workers. It also details how to minimise further harm, and reduce aggravation of existing condition. Many workplaces still do not make reasonable adjustment for mental illnesses and issues. The Law clearly puts these workplaces at risk of litigation and potential fines.

To Conclude

In conclusion, workplaces can do a lot to minimise further harm to those already struggling with mental health issues. Workplaces are mandated by law to manage the risk of stress, burnout and other psychosocial harm caused by workplace tasks and experiences. There are many creative ways to support better mental health in workplaces, and it is fast becoming essential that workplaces not only comply because it is the law, but because it is the right thing to do.

The right thing to do for people, and research is proving that putting people before profits, actually becomes a win-win because the profits will come.

For further training and information in this space, please contact us at Step by Step Training. We can tailor courses for you, or you might choose to undertake one of our already advertised training opportunities. Enquire with us today about how we can improve your workplace.

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