As an employer you would not expect your employee to work as usual if they were suffering from a physical illness that caused them obvious pain. Unfortunately, when people are suffering from mental health issues such as depression the signs are not obvious, or necessarily even visible at all. Many choose to suffer in silence because of stigma.
Relationship breakdowns, financial worries, grief and many other issues can be the trigger. But the frightening statistic is that one in five Australians experience a mental illness in any year.
Whilst moderate stress is typical in the workplace and can help build resilience, prolonged stress can be hugely problematic. It can lead to complications with a person’s physical and mental health.
Why workplace mental health matters
Employees who are struggling with their mental health may find it difficult to work well. Many even feel like they can’t come in to work at all. Increased absences can lead to their work colleagues starting to feel the strain of an increasing workload. This can create a domino effect of stress-related problems and before you know it, your business is suffering too.
At a cost of around $10.9 billion a year in lost productivity, it’s an expensive matter.
Employers have a legal obligation to ensure the health, safety and well-being of their staff. Failing to adequately address mental ill-health in your business can lead to a Fair Work claim for disability discrimination. In turn this can result in a damaging fair work case. But even more important is the fact that happy staff are more productive.
Time to change
Good mental health should be aspired to like good physical health. The difficulty is that it is harder to know when someone is struggling with mental ill-health unless they tell you. Sometimes we say we’re fine when we’re not.
Without being intrusive or presumptuous, employers must address and tackle mental health matters in their workplace. Luckily there is support available to help with this.
Changes you can make today
There are steps you can take today to make a positive impact on the mental well-being of your employees. It could start with a simple “How are you?” to open the conversation about mental health. Regular 121s with your staff present the perfect opportunity to talk.
Your company culture can impact workplace well-being. Leading by example and fostering a mentally healthy workplace, which leaves no room for stigma or discrimination, lets employees know that they are respected and working in a safe space.
Consider implementing a workplace well-being programme. Whilst ad hoc activities like bake-offs, away days and such can help to boost morale from time to time, a workplace well-being programme offers a holistic and permanent solution. Health benefits and flexible working options are just some of the elements that can form the basis of your programme.
Call us. There are costs associated with the mismanagement of workplace mental health. We will take the time to listen to the unique needs of your business and provide expert advice on how best you can support your employees and manage mental health in your business.