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Mental Health in the Workplace

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As we move from Stress Awareness Month (April) into Mental Health Awareness Month, which this year focuses on anxiety, the topic of mental wellbeing in the workplace is more prominent than ever. With good reason too, as a recent survey by CIPD, ‘The importance of people management’, shows that half of workers with poor managers feel work negatively impacts their mental health. 

With this in mind, how can employers authentically support staff and foster positive mental health within the organisation?

Management Training

Organisations looking to avoid negative mental health amongst the workforce should look to implement the following training for all people managers;

  • Recognising the signs of declining mental health and how a manager should respond effectively

  • How to provide clear expectations and regular feedback to employees to avoid confusion and disengagement, and maintain motivation

  • Understanding the importance of avoiding unnecessary pressure via excessive demands and unrealistic goals

  • How to foster a positive culture where hard work and contributions are regularly acknowledged and appreciated 

WFH: The New Normal

For organisations where employees now work from home or remotely, managers should consider the additional pressures workers may be feeling;

  • Many remote workers feel they need to ‘prove’ they are working, responding to messages instantly rather than focusing on the task in hand. Employers should seek to build a culture of trust, giving employees the autonomy to get on with their work and be task-motivated.

  • Remote workers can also struggle with feeling overwhelmed and overloaded due to the inability to disconnect from technology, particularly where there is a constant flow of messages between team-mates. Managers should look at the way their remote workers communicate and identify ways this can be improved, whilst encouraging employees to take a regular break from technology, even for a 10 minute walk

Cost of Living Crisis 

Despite recent good news in the budget for many, we’re still seeing prices rise faster than pay, with wages continuing to be eroded by inflation. Money worries are one of the most stigmatised issues at work, so employers should consider how they can break down these barriers and show their support for employees, via;

  • Access to practical support services, such as Financial Wellbeing resources or counselling so they can further discuss their feelings with a mental health professional.

  • Opening up the discussion around flexible working where required, for example, for childcare reasons. 

  • Internal conversations around the current crisis which show they aren’t alone; from sharing cost-saving tips, to asking people to consider cost-saving measures within your offices, or even organising low-cost or free team-building activities or socials. 

Learning & Development 

New research from the Open University has shown a strong link between L&D activity and wellbeing in the workplace;

  • Learning at work can help improve mental health and reduce anxiety in a number of ways, particularly where individuals are given the tools to build on their skills to improve their personal performance at work. 

  • Organisations should also think about the ways in which people learn best and find most enjoyable, treating people as individuals.

Read more about Mental Health Awareness Week 2023: Mental Health Awareness Week 2023 | Mental Health Foundation