Keeping in touch is important.
This is especially the case when it comes to people absent from work.
Their manager should remember to take the time to see how they’re doing, so they don’t feel forgotten about and they still feel like an active member of the team.
When it comes to mental health, this is also true.
Managers often worry that contacting someone who is off sick can be seen as harassment.
This doesn’t tend to be the case.
Most people who have experienced mental health-related problems agree that appropriate contact is not only beneficial, but essential.
It is best to treat someone off sick due to mental ill health the same way you would someone with a physical illness.
Treat the subject in a matter of fact, honest way and agree with the employee when it’ll be appropriate to get in touch.
For example, they may not mind a phone call to see how they are doing, but might not yet be ready for visitors.
As their mental health improves, they may welcome more contact.
During this time it’s also important to consider what reasonable adjustments can be made that allow the employee to return to work.
The employee’s GP can provide a fit note (with the employee’s permission) that shows what the employee is capable of.
This may give the manager a timescale to work with. However, they must be careful not to try and rush the employee back before they’re ready.
Soft skills for speaking with employees about mental health are an important part of management now.
Possessing these skills also forms part of an overall workplace culture that prioritises wellbeing.
Trust and communication are vital for creating employee engagement, and an environment where any concerns can be discussed, identified, and then addressed.
If you’d like to learn more about those soft skills, we recommend our Mental Health First Aid course.