1 in 6 employees are affected by mental health conditions every year. This will have a significant effect on your workplace and employees, but it can be improved.
Knowing that you have a supportive, understanding, flexible and open minded employer is important to anyone who has stress/anxiety. As a manager you should always treat the subject in a confidential manner.
It’s vital to understand that mental health problems don’t stop people from being able to work, and that you can support your employees to stay well; saving money and maintaining productivity.
Research shows that supporting your employees makes them more engaged, loyal and motivated, which can only be good for business.
1. RETHINK Mental Illness
RETHINK have produced this very helpful document relating to reasonable adjustments in the workplace. It’s aimed at managers and provides useful information for anyone considering reasonable adjustments for mental health issues.
2. Reasonable adjustments
The Equality Act 2010 requires employers to be flexible and make ‘reasonable adjustments’ for people with disabilities to enable them to do their jobs. The vast majority of reasonable adjustments are simple, inexpensive and make good business sense.
For example, flexible hours for a period of time, or devising a ‘back to work’ plan to gradually increase the hours an employee works could be included. But in reality, the most frequently required adjustment is flexibility and an open mind.
Funding through ‘access to work’ may help cover the costs associated with some reasonable adjustments.
The Equality and Human Rights commission have produced an excellent web resource which provides detailed guidance for employers about the new Equality Act. This section covers the duty to make reasonable adjustments, and contains guidance of 'what is reasonable' among other things.
Make your team aware of policies relating to mental health in your department. This will encourage them to talk you openly and honestly about their mental health.
See what your employees feel would best support them at work. There may be work related triggers or stresses that contribute to their difficulties that you might be able to support them with.
5. Be practical
Focus on the practical things that you can do to help. Some of the situations that your team members find themselves in are beyond your control, but there may be things that you can do to support them, for example, monitoring workloads. There is a useful guide by ACAS here.