Reducing work-related stress can be hugely beneficial for employers – reducing absence levels and improving overall performance. Employers also have a legal obligation to ensure the health, safety and welfare of their employees and to ensure they do not discriminate against disabled employees.
Our training session on 20 March 2019 will go through the legal risks for employers of failing to manage mental ill health and best practice for assisting employees in the workplace. Ahead of our training session, we’ve set out some of our top tips on this issue below.
Whilst no case is the same, there are several underlying triggers which in our experience can lead to mental ill health at work. Long hours, challenging expectations and deadlines, high-pressure environments, lone working and lack of control in workload are all factors which employers should consider. Employers should also be mindful that mental ill health is often triggered at times of change, for example where an employee is facing job insecurity or a change of management. Where these triggers are identified, steps should be taken to reduce the impact on employees and provide appropriate support.
Unfortunately many employees feel unable to confide in their employer regarding mental ill health. However, often there are early signs that an employee may be struggling which employers should look out for. Behavioural signs include lateness, withdrawal, working long hours, uncharacteristic problems with colleagues, short term absences and starting to struggle with workload. Employers should encourage managers to spot these warning signs and open up a dialogue with the employee as soon as possible.
Effective appraisal and performance management processes can be particularly helpful in identifying and addressing employees’ needs at an early stage. Line managers should be encouraged to meet regularly with employees on a one to one basis, providing an opportunity for employees to raise concerns and for the manager to explore any underlying issues that may be affecting performance.
Where absence begins to occur, a return to work process, including return to work meetings to explore the reasons for absence and the support that the employee needs can be particularly helpful.
One of the most common issues in relation to mental ill health is employees’ reluctance to discuss their concerns at work due to perceived stigma. Many employees report that they feel obliged to struggle on as they are concerned that their employer will not be sympathetic, or this may affect their career prospects.
Providing appropriate training to promote positive mental health in your workplace can help to start normalising the subject and encourage staff to talk to their manager (and their colleagues) about their mental health. Managers should receive specific training so they can be confident in supporting staff experiencing mental ill health.
If you would like further information on the training session or to book your place please follow this link.