Supporting Your Employees' Mental Wellbeing: Employer Duty of Care

As an employer, it is your Duty of Care to ensure that your staff can work safely and healthily. However, all too often, when we think of an employer’ s Duty of Care, we think of the typical workplace health and safety requirements and sick leave for physical illness and injury. But what about the illnesses that employers can’ t see?

An employer’ s duty of care manifests itself in many different ways, and with one third of sickness notes handed out by GPs relating to mental health, it has never been more important for employers, managers and HR departments to know how to effectively manage and support employees with ill mental health in the workplace.

A 2017 report by business-community outreach charity, Business in the Community, revealed that, though 60% employees experienced a form of work-related, mental health issues, less than a quarter of managers had received any training on managing mental health in the workplace and supporting employees with depression, stress or anxiety. Internal business policies are fundamental in supporting mental health in the workplace and as an employer, your Duty of Care to your workforce is not only moral – it’ s legal.

As an employer or manager who wants to provide the best support for your employees, it is important to take a step back and think about; what you can control; what you can’ t control and what your employee can do with the right support.

What You Can Control

It’ s important for everyone surrounding a person suffering with ill mental health to recognise that there are certain things that are out anyone’ s control. However, there are actions that can be put into place to both promote workplace well-being and to support employees with mental illness.

Often, the steps towards increasing productivity and employee well-being are often very similar, both require a positive and engaging environment that places importance on not only the roles of its employees, but the employees themselves. 60 per cent of employees say they’ d feel more motivated and more likely to recommend their organisation as a good place to work if their employer took action to support mental wellbeing.

Here’ s some ideas on how to let your employees know that your business is ready and willing to support and promote strong, mental health:

  • Ensure that all employees are aware of the policies and support available for mental health
  • Encourage managers, team leaders or HR schedule casual, one-to-one meetings with employees every quarter, in order to check in on how they are finding their work-life and everyday tasks, as well as their work-life balance and how they are generally.
  • Offer flexible working, where possible. Whether this is flexi-time, giving employees the choice to work from home, work outdoors, in chill out areas, etc.
  • Where appropriate, involve staff in making internal decisions.
  • Encourage camaraderie amongst your workforce, be that Friday treats, monthly socials or healthy, non-work-related competition.

As well as promoting mental health in your workplace, it is also within your control, as an employer, to manage your approach to supporting any employees with ill mental health. An Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) is a great way to put employee wellbeing is at the heart of your business culture and contribute to employer health and wellbeing initiatives.

In addition to this, little changes to complement your business’ EAP can often make all the difference. For example, altering your employee’ s work schedule, arrangements, workload, responsibilities or deadlines can help relieve stress and anxiety.

What You Can’ t Control

Though it is vital for employers to promote mental wellbeing in the workplace and support employees who are suffering from poor health, it is equally important to recognise the things that you, as an employer, cannot directly control. For example, you cannot directly affect or change your staff’ s life circumstances, the support they have at home, or their approach to their own mental health.

That’ s where CiC comes in.  We provide Employee Assistance Programmes (EAP), meaning every employee in your organisation can access confidential, 24/7/365 support and advice via our EAP services. We also provide ad hoc counselling for employees, critical incident and trauma support, specialist employee counselling or support for managers. With CiC, what employers can’ t directly control doesn’ t have to be out of your hands. Contact us today, to find out more.

What Employees Can Do With the Right Support

Unsurprisingly, EAPs have a direct impact on business productivity; for every £1 invested in an employee assistance programme, companies can see a return of between £1.50 and £9.

With the right assistance, employees will not only feel supported to be at work, taking less sick days in place of flexible working, but will be more likely to feel that they can return to their work tasks and responsibilities. As a result, utilising an EAP really is in everyone’ s best interests: happy staff are productive staff; well-supported staff are committed, loyal staff.

Get the best out of your workforce, contact CiC today.