There are several steps a manager can take to help reduce mental health-related absence within their team.
With a reported 1 in 4 workers dealing with mental health problems such as anxiety, depression or stress, it makes practical sense to treat mental health in the same way we would physical illnesses.
Many of the changes are easy to introduce and only require small adjustments to how things are already done.
Individually, each change may not look like it would make a difference. However, overall they help create an environment that will benefit the mental wellbeing of everyone.
Here’s where to start.
- Create a workplace culture supportive of mental health
There is a stigma surrounding mental health. Many people feel reluctant to talk about it, especially to their manager at work.
Managers can help create a supportive and proactive culture so staff become more confident discussing the subject.
The organisation should begin by stating their commitment to positive mental health.
They can then back this up by ensuring the relevant policies and procedures are in place to support employees.
- Know how to have a conversation about mental health
Managers need the soft skills for carrying out conversations about what is often a difficult subject. It may take open, non-judgmental questioning to encourage someone to open up.
They should also be able to read the signs of mental ill health, as they are better placed than anyone to spot whether someone’s behaviour has changed.
- Know how to support someone with a mental health problem
Once an employee has opened up about their mental health, it’s important to know what to do next.
This may include making reasonable adjustments; these are changes to an employee’s role, environment or routine that allows them to continue doing their job. These adjustments should be monitored and reviewed with the employee regularly to see whether they are effective.
The manager may also need to know where to direct the employee if they require further support.
- Know how to manage an employee’s absence and return
If an employee needs time off to recover, their manager will need to know the organisation’s absence procedure.
Keeping in touch, phased returns, reasonable adjustments and return to work interviews are all tools the manager has at their disposal to support the employee and help them eventually recover.
The process doesn’t stop there though – an employee shouldn’t be considered “back to normal” just because they’re back in the building.
If you’d like to find out more about how to put these processes in place, or which ones you could benefit from, simply take the free BounceBack questionnaire.