Supporting mental health in the workplace has become an absolute necessity in today’s shifting world. What was once considered taboo, has now become a shared commonality amongst us as we try and navigate through so many changes and disruptions. According tomind.org.uk:
More than one in five (21%) agreed that they had called in sick to avoid work when asked how workplace stress had affected them.
14% agreed that they had resigned and 42% had considered resigning when asked how workplace stress had affected them.
30% of staff disagreed with the statement ‘I would feel able to talk openly with my line manager if I was feeling stressed’.
Managers need to take a proactive role in recognising employees’ needs as well as meeting them. If we sweep mental wellbeing under the rug – it opens up organisations to a plethora of issues such as low productivity, low morale, increased absenteeism, low staff retention and individuals not reaching their targets. So how do we tackle this sensitive issue?
Know the signs
Get informed about what depression, anxiety or burnout looks like. Sometimes symptoms aren’t so obvious and they may be as subtle as someone who is taking a long time to respond to simple emails or return calls. Building emotional intelligence can not only benefit others, but ourselves. Sometimes we may spot these red flags in our own life and it can serve as a good reminder to reassess our situation and seek help if needed.
Understand the cause
The best way to eliminate stress is to get to the root cause. If you sense an employee is going through a difficult time then pinpoint where it’s coming from. It could be that they are overworked, have a grievance with someone in the workplace or feel unsupported. Actively listening and providing solutions allows workers to feel safe and heard – increasing positive mental wellbeing.
Staying late to get work finished isn’t always a sign of an over-achiever. Sometimes it can signal someone who is not able to cope with their work load. The same goes for taking sick leave often, it could indicate bigger problems at play. Keep an eye on your team and their habits. By understanding who they are, it’s easier to sense when something is not quite right. True leaders stay curious and compassionate.
Be a good example
Change begins by leading by example. The way you move through your day does not go unrecognised by your employees and peers. Don’t over-work yourself and normalise going home at a sensible time. Take a full lunch break and refrain from eating at your desk whilst working. If you’re taking a mental health sick day then make it be known to your team. It’s this very behaviour that eradicates the stigma of depression and anxiety. We are all human and we shouldn’t feel ashamed of feeling stressed or down. The more we shine a light on our own vulnerabilities rather than feel ashamed of them, the more we grow, bloom and feel connected to one another.