22nd September, 2020
Our Top Tips on Reducing the Effect of Mental Ill-Health Problems in the Workplace
Lockdown changed the workplace landscape significantly on 23 March but now that this has eased, workplaces are changing dramatically once again.
At a time where employees are facing additional strains and 89% of private companies are reporting ‘presenteeism’, what does this mean for employers?
The latest CIPD’s 2020 Health and Well-Being at Work survey revealed that ‘mental ill-health remains the most common cause of long-term absence and is also among the top causes of short-term absence. Overall, three-fifths of respondents report an increase in common mental health conditions (such as anxiety and depression) among employees over the past 12 months’.
Poor mental health can affect morale, sickness absence rates, and pose health and safety risks to name a few. Of particular concern for employers, such issues can culminate in Employment Tribunal claims including, but not limited to, unfair dismissal, constructive dismissal, and disability discrimination. This becomes especially sensitive given that awards for a disability discrimination claim are currently unlimited.
Employers are legally obliged to ensure the health and safety of workers and provide a safe working environment and not to discriminate under the Equality Act. From a mental health perspective, the spotlight is on now, more than ever, to provide a safe workplace amongst the minefield of staff returning from home working, furlough, and lay-off.
Employers should be proactive in combating mental ill-health in the workplace and in doing so may consider implementing a stress and mental wellbeing policy, along with a flexible working policy. Having the correct structure in place will undoubtedly improve mental health awareness, build a positive culture, and most importantly, support staff who may be suffering from mental ill-health.
Our top tips for reducing the effect of mental ill-health problems in the workplace are:
- Have an open-door policy and deal with matters sensitively choosing appropriate settings and being non-judgemental. Discussing sources of support and any potential adjustments can be highly beneficial.
- Keeping in touch and “checking in” with employees, particularly where working patterns are different and face to face contact is minimal due to remote working or reduced numbers in the workplace.
- Focus on an inclusive work culture by creating a comfortable environment that encourages openness and repels negative stigma.
- Train staff and management effectively by highlighting key issues and raising awareness and “signs to look out for.”
- Considering who is best placed to deal with mental health issues appropriately.
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