A 2018 CIPD report provides a Managers Guide to Mental Health. This blog is a summary, interpretation and extension of their findings.
A major factor in the cost of poor mental health at work is that issues or conflicts are left undetected and become significantly more severe over time. Poor mental health at work can reduce employee motivation, engagement and optimism and left unaddressed can contribute to the development of a mental health disorder. Employers have a responsibility to support staff in dealing with personal or work-related concerns. Often an employee assistance program (EAP) is offered as face-to-face counselling for employees. There are also additional steps that management can take with early intervention employee assistance programs to prevent stress before it spirals.
Induction is the formal introduction to a new job or position in an organization. An effective induction program helps employees to better understand their new role, expectations and company processes. It is particularly important because beginning a new role brings higher levels of anxiety and stress to meet the expectations of a new employer.
To offer an effective induction, employers should cover the following elements:
- Give to all new, promoted or redeployed employees
- Outline how the employee fits into the team and the organization’s strategy and goals
- Share relevant health and safety information
- Provide a clear outline of job/role requirements and expectations
- Outline the offered health and wellbeing initiatives (like an employee assistance program)
The induction process should set the foundation for communication between the employer and employee that prevents the build-up of stress and tension.
Unhealthy management culture is the second major cause of work-related stress and can exacerbate any existing conditions. As a result, a health management culture is instrumental in preventing the development of mental health issues at work by early identification and intervention.
Line managers should be adequately trained in key people management skills as they are often the first line of support for employees seeking help. It is important for line managers to reflect on their behavior and management style in relation to:
- Creating realistic deadlines
- Dealing with problems are soon as they arise
- Regularly asking team members, ‘how are you?’
Another important factor is having an appropriate support network for the line managers themselves. Uprise is an employee assistance program that both supports and takes some responsibility away from line managers. Uprise does this by automating both awareness and support of mental health concerns by conducting regular check-ins and personalized support in a more confidential way. As a result, users of the Uprise program perceive their manager and company as more supportive. Try a live demo of the platform if you are interested in how we can support your employees.
IDENTIFY WORKPLACE TRIGGERS
The CIPD report indicates that there are certain workplace triggers used to identify unusual behavior in an employee that may need support. This includes if an employee is not taking breaks, working for long extended hours, lone working or a worsening in their communication. Although these may illuminate some issues, it can be difficult to guess if an employee is struggling and identify an appropriate way or time to check in with them.
Uprise combats this issue with Wellbeing and Stress Assessments offered to employees. Wellbeing is measured numerically with a Wellbeing Check where employees receive a score out of 100 relative to the population. This questionnaire is based on a World Health Organization scale which quickly and accurately measures wellbeing. Based on their score, employees can be stepped up to different levels of mental health support confidentially and it can be used as a baseline for improving their wellbeing and happiness over time.
It is important that employees have the ability to cope with a certain degree of pressure, adversity and deadlines in the workplace. Building resilience helps employees to understand how they can manage and withstand pressure effectively. A workplace can encourage resilience on an individual level by encouraging employees to stay connected with friends and family, be active, try to learn new things, give to others and be mindful.
Another more direct and effect option for organizations is to invest in an employee assistance program that offers support to struggling employees. Traditional employee assistance programs only offer face-to-face counselling and wait for employees to reach out for help, something they often cannot do. Uprise is a preventative and early-intervention employee assistance program. It is offered to employees as a training tool, that teaches them best practice tools to self-manage their mental health. By offering support digitally, the program is highly confidential and allows employees to easily access help when they need it and before they reach a crisis point.
Outcomes after using the Uprise program show employees to have higher psychological safety across a range of indicators including hope, optimism, self-efficacy and resilience. Psychological safety is a key indicator for turnover risk, and Uprise found 19% of users showing an imminent turnover risk before the program reduced to just 9%, on average across companies in 2018.
STARTING A CONVERSATION
The last and most important way to prevent mental health issues at work is by opening up the conversation about mental health within your organization and team regularly. Good managers will know their staff well and identify any negative changes in their employees behavior.
When starting a conversation, managers need to ensure that they are seen as approachable and listen to any staff concerns so that their relationship is built on trust and support. Conversations should occur regularly and involve simple, non-judgmental questions. If an employee discloses something, a manager should show empathy, re-assurance and give the employee a chance to speak. It is also important to re-iterate confidentiality and develop an action plan where they can access the necessary support.
Organizations that invest in an employee assistance program automatically communicate to their employees that they have made working towards better mental health a priority. An employee assistance program like Uprise allows employees to start a conversation immediately with a registered clinician that can offer relevant and tailored support.