What are workplace mental health strategies?
According to Collins online dictionary, a strategy is “a general plan intended to achieve something, especially over a long period.” So, for example, workplace mental health strategies are interventions employers introduce to support and promote good mental health.
There’s a range of measures that employers can put in place. Some are quick and easy to introduce; others may involve a fundamental culture change in your organisation. Here are a few ideas to start our discussion of workplace mental health strategies:
- Review your HR policies and make sure they include mental health.
- Normalise mental health in your workplace. You can do this by encouraging people to talk about their mental health at work. This will help to tackle the stigma around mental health.
- Get rid of the ‘long hours’ culture in your workplace. Set an example by only staying late on rare occasions, so it is the exception and not the rule.
- Promote the idea of maintaining a healthy work-life balance. You can do this by discouraging ‘after hours’ emails and respecting employees’ home life – and your own!
- Encourage everyone to take their breaks and to have lunch away from their desk. A little exercise and fresh air at lunchtime is a simple way of supporting wellbeing.
You can do many other things, but all these strategies have a few things in common. First, they all have to start from the top. The leadership in your organisation has to put mental health and wellbeing at the top of their agenda.
They also have a common purpose: to prevent poor mental health, build employee resilience, and give mental and physical health equal status.
But are workplace mental health strategies really necessary?
Deloitte discovered recently that poor employee mental health is costing employers £45 billion per year. So, where does that staggering cost come from?
There are 3 main effects of poor mental health at work:
- First, there’s increased absenteeism. This is when people feel so unwell or unable to cope at work that they stay away. They may not admit what the real problem is because they fear their employer won’t react favourably. Deloitte found that absenteeism cost employers £9 billion a year.
But the biggest problem here is that communication is, potentially, broken. And without good communication, the problem doesn’t stand a chance of being solved. The employer may want to help, but without information, they won’t know how to. The employee who feels that poor mental health is a problem at work will have added anxiety.
- The second source of the costs of poor mental health arises when an employee effectively drags themself into work. This is known as presenteeism, and according to Deloitte, it costs employers £29 billion each year.
You might think that this is a good thing – at least the employee is in! But if someone is feeling unwell, they are not going to be very productive. They may miss deadlines or produce work below their usual standard, which can affect the whole team. For the employee with poor mental health, this situation will become unbearable because of increased stress. So they may ultimately go off sick.
- Finally, there’s leaveism. Leaveism is when employees continue to work outside office hours or even during annual leave. They feel unable to meet the demands of their job within their contracted hours. They can’t switch off, and modern technology makes this even more problematic because it encourages an ‘always on ‘ mindset. It’s a recipe for burnout.
How many employees need workplace mental health strategies?
Because of the pandemic, most people’s mental health has been affected. Up to date figures from the UK government show that mental distress affects between 25% and almost 30%.
Certainly, some employees will be feeling much better back at work. But not everyone will, and many will be re-entering the workplace carrying a mental health condition with them. It might be a longstanding problem or a new one arising from life in lockdown.
So on every level, workplace mental health strategies are definitely necessary. But if you’re still not convinced, read on for some of the benefits of investing in mental health strategies.
Can workplace mental health strategies affect my bottom line?
Definitely. In fact, Deloitte found that for every £1 spent by employers on mental health interventions, they get £5 back. This is because of reduced absence, presenteeism and staff turnover.
They also identified the key components of the best mental health strategies.
- They create a culture change in the whole organisation. Mental health strategies are inclusive and offer support to all employees, managers and leaders.
- The strategies focus on prevention by helping employees to develop resilience.
- They use technology or diagnostics so that those most at risk can be helped effectively using targeted methods.
Fortunately, SupportRoom has a great deal of experience supporting different organisations in implementing successful mental health strategies. You can read more about mental health issues at work on our blog here.
How can SupportRoom help my company?
Here, at SupportRoom, we offer employee therapy for small to medium businesses. Our platform allows employees to receive therapy on-demand from a dedicated, qualified therapist.
Our SME Employee Support platform is designed to give insightful data that allows your employees to track their progress and monitor their own mental and physical health.
Book a free demo here.