Health and safety is something that all employers know to take seriously. They have an obvious moral and legal duty to keep their workforce safe and well. And getting it wrong can be costly.
Managing psychosocial risks at work is part of that responsibility, yet half of companies don’t have an employee wellbeing check-in. Data released by Mental Health First Aid England to mark My Whole Self Day on 18 March 2022, revealed that 48% of employees had not experienced a wellbeing check in during the last year, up from 25% in 2021.
Despite increased reports of mental ill health, only 27% report receiving a wellbeing check-in from their employer monthly or more.
And data also suggests that increases in mental health absence are more noticeable in working environments that have pivoted post pandemic, for example the financial services sector that made a wholesale change to home working.
Why is that?
When it is estimated that mental health problems costs UK employers up to £45 billion a year, you would think that employers would be putting check-ins high on their agenda.
So the evidence that this is not the case leads me to question why. My experience suggests that much of this is due to managers not being supported themselves with:
- Understanding the real need for check-ins,
- creating time to engage with check-ins, and / or
- the knowledge and confidence to have such conversations.
Remote working means that challenges can be harder to spot, and struggles can feel overwhelming with less connection and opportunities to off-load and hear others’ support and advice. We must find ways to support all employees, regardless of where they work.
Not an Option
Employers are seeking ways to demonstrate their value in order to attract new talent, retain staff, reduce sick days and improve productivity. That sounds like a good enough case to put employee wellbeing high on the agenda. Yet it is a health and safety issue too.
The ISO 45003 is a guideline standard that provides a framework to develop, implement, maintain and continually improve health and safety at work. That covers employee wellbeing including isolation, stress, burnout and depression. Yet many organisations continue to fail their workforce in terms of simple ideas such as:
- Checking in,
- Undertaking stress risk assessments, and
- Creating mental wellbeing plans.
Simple Steps to Get Started
Half of the employees surveyed felt most comfortable talking about their mental health face-to-face, while one in ten prefer other means. This demonstrates the need for a personalised approach that takes account of individual preferences and bridges the gap for remote-working staff. Ask your employees how they want to experience check-ins.
A Wellness Action Plan is a useful conversation framework to identify what individuals need to stay well, what might get in the way, the signs to look for that they are struggling, and the support they find most helpful. It is a great process to help managers look after their teams.
Managers may also find it useful to consider how to shape their role in a way that increases the engagement of their team. Many managers find themselves in a position of responsibility for others, without adequate investment in training or support. This Employee Engagement Framework will guide managers to create a meaningful experience for their team to reduce stress.
Another useful tool is an Emotional Needs Audit, that can be used individually, within a conversation with a manager, or as a team to explore the wider collective experience. We know that humans need to feel secure, connected, recognised and so on, but companies rarely know what that actually looks like in practice for their workforce. And importantly, what they could be doing to improve the basics for good mental health. This is a simple resource to get the conversation going and to identify what is going well and what needs to change.
Where do people in your organisation turn if they are unsure how to support individuals? HR is an obvious go-to and there may be other avenues, such as Employee Assistance Programmes. But the breadth and depth of expertise can be limited in-house (unless you’re in the line of mental wellbeing!) and sometimes people do not have the capacity, or they want some fast advice. It’s Time for Change is at the end of the phone to help managers, HR and other professionals explore the best approach to supporting individuals experiencing mental wellbeing challenges. A 30-minute call can make all the difference to empower you to keep control of the situation with confidence. HR SOS is here for you. Contact me for further information.
Do you want greater insights using innovative technology that provides data to pinpoint at-risk individuals? Govox Wellbeing & Mental Health Platform provides a digital platform that can really support organisations to have necessary conversations with the right people.
Therapist Aid provides free downloadable activity sheets to prompt discussion using scenarios, provide guides such as gratitude exercises, and templates for goal setting, and a whole lot more.
My Whole Self is the campaign for workplace culture change that engages the whole person at work, a movement that can significantly reduce stress by allowing people to be themselves. For more information, check out resources at Mental Health First Aid England.
If you think you, or your people managers, could benefit from a conversation to boost confidence and to provide space to explore questions and worries about the reality of check-ins or challenges around employee mental health and wellbeing, I can help. Drop me a line too for more information about check-ins, wellbeing audits, assessments, and creating plans at an individual, team and whole-organisation level. This is what I’m passionate about so I’m always happy to have the conversation.