Mental health awareness week starts every year on the second Monday in May – in 2019 from 13 – 19 May. advo hr suggests workplace initiatives you could implement to help keep your staff mentally healthy.
A mentally healthy workforce has more productive, engaged, contented employees and potentially less absence. Here are practical steps:
- Implement a wellbeing policy.
- Look at what you have in place already which you may not know you have! If you have any employee benefits such as private medical insurance, group life insurance or income protection, most of these are now offering a whole stream of support on mental health and wellbeing included in the cover. Some of them also offer a host of seminars, webinars and workshops in relation to mental health, wellness and wellbeing.
- There are also some really inexpensive benefits you could offer, such as employee assistance programmes (EAP). Some cash plans offer wellness apps where employees can login, or counselling services.
- Mental health first aiders are becoming really popular. Similar to normal first aiders, you send them on a course for a couple of days and they become a certified mental health first aider. You would normally pick someone considered impartial in the business, but this would certainly support a positive, safe environment to help staff break down any barriers and talk without fear of stigma.
Remember that any wellbeing initiatives need the support of senior management to be truly effective.
The following can help promote a work-life balance:
- Encouraging staff to work sensible hours, for example, work hard during work hours but not expecting employees to stay late; avoid working at weekends and from taking work to do at home; encourage them to take full lunch breaks; take their full annual holiday entitlement.
- Flexible working can help support healthier and more productive ways of working. Here at advo provided a key holder is available and the employee request’s it in advance, staff have the option to work an 8-4 or 10-6 shift, alternatively to the usual 9-5 day. Their contractual hours are 9-5 and the policy states the flexi working policy can be reviewed at any time but it works really well here. It even reduces absence for routine appointments as people generally try and make these sorts of appointment for the beginning or end of the day and they can work flexi-ime.
- Having a buddy system/mentoring, particularly when recruiting new staff can help, some people find it easier to speak to a peer or someone who isn’t their manager.
- Regular 1-2-1’s.
- Open door policy.
- Create opportunities for coaching, learning, development and promotion.
- Involving staff in dialogue and decision making, promote feedback and engagement through staff surveys; focus groups; staff forums; planning away days; group problem solving meetings; feeding back board decisions to all staff.