What is mental health in the workplace?

wellbeing atw ork

There can be many reasons for mental health problems in the workplace. Often the problem can be unrelated to work, and triggered by outside issues, or disorders which have no obvious cause. However, many people spend much of their time in the workplace, and by its very nature it can be a stressful and intense environment. And this can lead to mental health issues. 

A badly managed working environment will impact negatively on the mental wellbeing of staff. And this has the potential to cause financial and operational problems for your organisation. Workplace issues such as increased, excessive or unmanageable workloads, financial worries and bullying can all cause long term problems. 

Workload

Of course, employees generally want to do the best job they can. Doing well in a role can have social, financial and personal rewards so there is often a desire to live up to expectation and complete all (and sometimes more) of the work assigned. But, if not managed correctly, this can easily turn into burn out. 

If you feel someone in your team is struggling with their workload there are things you can do to tackle this:

Time management training

For some, organisation and time management comes easily. For others, it is a constant battle. Once you have identified those who struggle with this, you can offer training, or encourage team discussions focused on organisation strategies. It should also be raised in one to one meetings and written into work plans. 

Introduce regular briefings

By regularly meeting with and communicating with your team you can create clear priorities. Regular briefings will help to keep on top of what is going on and how individual members of the team are coping. 

Value your staff

Feeling under appreciated for work which has been difficult and stressful can be a trigger for mental health issues. Making your staff feel valued and appreciated can have a major impact on how someone views themselves and the world around them. Carefully chosen words and consideration can turn stress into satisfaction. 

Financial worries

Whilst not limited to the workplace, financial concerns are very common. The NHS states that feeling low or anxious is a normal response to struggling with debt. It can also be humiliating to discuss so many people will keep it to themselves causing the anxiety to grow. 

Steps you can take to support employees in this situation include:

Making sure you pay on time

Of course, this should be a minimum requirement but it can often be overlooked. Especially for freelance or self employed staff, payments can sometimes be delayed or forgotten. Paying everyone on time should be the priority of every business. 

Sign post to support

Provide employees with information about where they can access advice regarding their finances. Perhaps you could link up with a reputable company who will provide resources to help manage money, debt management and offer sensible financial assistance. 

Bullying

Bullying in the workplace can have devastating consequences. It can lead to anxiety, panic attacks, depression and even post traumatic stress disorder. This is neither great for the individual nor the organisation. On top of the negative reputation it can cause a business, it has been estimated by ACAS that bullying related absence and staff turnover costs businesses in the region of 18 billion a year. 

A zero tolerance policy to bullying should come from the top. It’s vital that all employees set the right example and demonstrate acceptable behaviour, no matter what their position. These strategies will also help to prevent workplace bullying:

Create a formal policy

A bullying policy should be absolutely clear that bullying is unacceptable in all circumstances. It should provide examples of exactly what is meant by bullying, and the consequences of failure to adhere to the policy. This should be regularly circulated amongst all staff. 

Raise awareness

Bullying should be a regular discussion in the workplace. If there is a clear message on the matter, there can be no ambiguity. The bully cannot then hide behind the pretence that they didn’t understand that what they were doing was harmful. 

Training 

It is vital that businesses and organisations have an awareness of mental health and its impacts. Engage in Learning provides online training courses which will help you and your organisation understand and deliver appropriate support and guidance to your employees.  

Our Positive Mental Health Training can be found here