2020/21 has seen unprecedented change to the way we work and live, and being aware of employee mental wellbeing has never been so important. The value added to the economy by people at work who have mental health problems is as high as £225 billion per year, which represents 12.1% of the UK’s total GDP. It’s important to protect that value by addressing mental health at work, which is why every workplace should have corporate mental health training.
Scientific research has increasingly shown that mental health matters, and the government has recently outlined plans to support people’s wellbeing and mental health over the winter, with a whole section dedicated to Mental Health at Work. It’s an important reminder that, by law, employers have a duty of care towards their employees. With the right support from both colleagues and employers within a corporate environment, workplaces and businesses can thrive – even in these exceptional circumstances.
Stress, anxiety and depression are now the biggest causes of sickness absence in the UK. These feelings are completely understandable when life unexpectedly changes in a way that is sudden, dramatic and out-of-control, like the situation that coronavirus has forced so many of us into. Corporate mental health training can help employers to manage the mental health of their staff at work, and minimise the risk of absence due to mental health issues.
Investing in employee wellbeing makes business sense – for every £1 invested in mental health training, studies have shown it can generate £9.98 through increased productivity and fewer absences from work. There is strong evidence workplaces with high levels of mental wellbeing increase productivity by as much as 12%.
Despite this, only 10% of line managers in a survey felt that they had sufficient training to deal with mental health problems at work, indicating a strong need for corporate mental health training.
It’s important to treat mental health and wellbeing as core business considerations – not an afterthought, or something to tick off a checklist. With this in mind, it’s likely to help if you have designated representatives at a board level and within senior management to implement a mental health strategy right at the heart of the business.
Line managers with first-hand experience of mental health issues will probably feel more confident in providing everyday support to an employee who discloses a mental health issue. Supporting the development of compassionate and effective managers will play a critically important role in creating mentally healthy teams in the long term. Managers should have access to mental health training and HR support in order to fulfil their potential as mentors, and should be treated as unique business assets.
It’s also vital to minimise the risk of any discrimination claim on the grounds of mental health by immediately dealing with a complaint, making it clear that any judgemental or negative behaviour is unacceptable. By working to create a culture that is accepting and open, and incorporating mental health into any diversity strategies, you will encourage employees to speak up if they see or hear about any discrimination – thereby encouraging a workplace where people will feel supported and protected.
In a survey 86% of respondents believed their job and being at work helped them to maintain good mental health. This comes down to job satisfaction but also from the social interaction and creativity that can come from getting like-minded colleagues together. It’s clear that a happy workforce can have a hugely positive effect on the overall wellbeing of the workforce, therefore highlighting the importance of colleagues having good professional relationships and feeling able to lean on one another when needed.
It’s important to ensure all employees are well versed in any diversity goals of the organisation and the overall business objectives. If you can get employees involved in mentor schemes, this can represent a really valuable way to offer both personal and professional development in a way that supports other people within the workforce.
Encourage your employees to become culturally competent, by asking them to learn about any different cultures, races, religions and backgrounds represented by your workforce. Ask colleagues to share their customs with one another where possible, and encourage everyone to become familiar with diversity-related terms that foster inclusion.
Another way to make employees feel supported and heard is to send out employee engagement surveys, where you encourage respondents to answer as openly and honestly as possible. Welcome ideas and take action where needed and explain to employees how their feedback has driven positive change for the future of your organisation, in your commitment to continuous learning.
Employees will feel more comfortable if employers create a supportive work environment, where people feel able to talk openly about their mental health. For example, mental health should be given the same importance as physical health, employees should be offered regular one-to-one meetings with their managers to let them know how they’re feeling, and companies should encourage mental health initiatives such as workshops or training.
At Loch Associates Group, we’ve been refining our Wellbeing offering with a unique ‘Pick N Mix’ service which provides employers with the opportunity to target their wellbeing support throughout the winter depending on which areas they want to focus on. Our Wellbeing strategies ensure that you’re able to create a safe, happy and healthy workforce, where each and every employee feels supported and heard.
Our training courses are delivered by experts who have a range of experience in managing mental health in the workplace, equipping attendees with the tools to cope with any mental health issues at work. We can help employees to spot the signs that a colleague might be suffering from mental health issues – training your staff in this way demonstrates your commitment to their wellbeing and helps you create an environment where your employees can thrive. We can also provide tailored training courses to suit your bespoke requirements.
For more information, visit our mental health training page.