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Of late there has been a significant publicity drive to raise awareness of mental health issues, and try to remove some of the stigma of talking about them.
Part of removing that stigma involves recognising both the impact and influence the workplace can have on dealing with mental health.
And there is good reason to. Work-related stress is one of the top causes of employee absence. According to Mental Health Charity Mind (www.mind.org.uk), 1 in 5 take days off work due to stress, and 1 in 10 people have resigned a job due to stress. In fact, it’s estimated that mental health problems among workers cost the economy over £26 billion per year.
These sort of figures would have an impact on any organisation, but the effects will no doubt be felt more keenly by small businesses.
In recent articles we’ve looked at how to help ensure a happy team. But, according to Mind, there are also things that managers can do to create a workplace that supports positive mental health.
– Promote wellbeing
As with so many things, leading from the top is key. That means setting an example that it’s OK to say if you are not OK, supporting sensible working hours, and expecting people to take their lunch break.
– Invest in learning. People are more likely to be able to cope, and less likely to become anxious, if they feel properly equipped to do their jobs.
– Consider your work environment. Working in noisy, overcrowded offices that are too hot or cold, or where equipment doesn’t work properly, can all add to the pressure.
– Provide support. If employees have a good relationship with their manager and feel are working in a business that values them they are much more likely speak up when they are struggling. Make sure you publicise any support that is available.
It sounds obvious, but it’s also important to tackle the actual work related causes of mental health issues head on. That means keeping communication channels open to spot and deal with the early signs of stress, and making sure you look at the underlying causes of poor performance.
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