One of the leading causes of repeated absence from work is stress or related mental health issues. This is probably because, despite the fact that public awareness relating to mental illness has grown exponentially, employers are still notoriously bad at dealing with mental health in the workplace. If you can nip these problems in the bud and create a positive, open work environment then the instances of stress should fall drastically.
You may consider the basics of meditation at work and encourage mindfulness, but it is important to be well educated on such things to ensure you are going about it the best way. For example, are you aware of trauma sensitive mindfulness? Mental wellbeing is something that must be treated with the utmost sensitivity and understanding and must be catered to each person. You need to be aware of each individual’s needs.
Why address mental illness in the workplace?
Aside from the aforementioned reason for reducing absences, mental health issues can affect the quality and quantity of work being done when they are present. A company that neglects the mental health of its employees can end up with a high staff turnover and ill feelings can quickly spread amongst colleagues. This can also create a sense of bitterness towards the firm as a whole.
Work plays a vital role in our emotional, social, and even physical wellbeing and dominates a huge part of our lives. Therefore, employers play a huge role in either supporting those struggling with mental illness or aggravating issues further.
What can you do?
What measures can a business put in place to support the mental health of its employees?
It is important to make sure that all your employees are educated about mental illness by making relevant literature available or offering online courses to your staff. These measures can help them identify signs and symptoms, as well as offer advice on how to respond to a mental health crisis. Predominantly this serves to open up a conversation about mental health and make them more familiar and comfortable with the topic.
As well as educating your employees on the whole, you should ensure that you offer a supportive environment in which all your staff feel valued. You should make yourself aware of any factors that can create a risk to mental health and the demands that are placed on your employees. Monitor their workload and be realistic with your expectations – provide a system in which they can comfortably report any difficulties with their work or workload without fear of negative repercussions.
Make reasonable adjustments for any employees returning to work following an episode of mental illness, or any reason for an extended absence such as maternity leave. Individuals will have different requirements and will need different types of support upon the return to this office – this can be very daunting and should be made as easy as possible. Most commonly they may require some flexibility with their working hours to accommodate any medical appointments or simply to ease them back in without overwhelming them. You are taking these measures predominantly to support their wellbeing but also to minimize the risk of any repeated absences.