How important is emphasising support for staff
Emphasising support for employees is important, however, manager’s behaviour plays a central role in this. Across the UK there are businesses where workplace wellbeing is a boardroom priority and our research found that a third of people feel more able to talk to their line manager about mental health issues.
A quarter worry that discussing mental health issues in the workplace may affect their career prospects though.
The businesses we partner with, which successfully foster a more open culture, are the ones in which employees feel comfortable making use of the support available.
Our figures show that one in five employees see workplace culture and benefits as a key deciding factor when looking for a new position so emphasising support to staff is crucial to attracting the best talent and can play a significant role in retaining key people.
How would you advise SME bosses to address staff mental health?
As a first step: education and simply talking about mental health at work can make a big difference, allowing you to better understand what people need.
Mental Health First Aid England, a training organisation featured in our wellbeing publication, have a campaign called “Take 10”. It encourages employers to create time and space in the workplace to talk about mental health issues (with free downloads and guidance on its?website).
Access to online and face to face counselling, through health insurance or employee assistance programmes, are popular with employers as scalable support systems. These are ultimately reactive “safety nets”.
A more proactive approach could provide access to online health assessments tools with ongoing education modules to help employees address wellbeing concerns before they escalate. This is often implemented by businesses taking the first step to understanding the holistic wellbeing needs of staff as it provides new data to support decision making.
Do you believe that mental health as a taboo subject persists?
High profile business leaders have started sharing their recovery stories, which has definitely helped people to reframe the conversation around mental health in the workplace.
Many of the contributors in Bupa’s Wellbeing Edit cited the change in the discussion around mental health issues as the biggest positive change in wellbeing in the last 12?months and it is clear UK businesses now recognise that it is just as important to safeguard the mental health of employees as it is their physical health.
Businesses are making great progress, but it remains important for us to continue working together and sharing good practices so people with mental health issues receive the support needed.