Businesses rely on having a healthy and productive workforce. Conditions like anxiety, depression and unmanageable stress are experienced by one in six British workers each year. In partnership with the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) Mind has created a guide to mental health for SMEs with advice on managing mental health and supporting staff.
In the past five years, employers have cited stress as the number one reason given by employees who take time off work. Work-related mental ill-health is costing businesses up to £26 billion every year, including:
• £2.4 billion wasted on staff turnover due to poor mental wellbeing
• £15.1 billion lost by unproductive staff at work who are unable to cope due to mental health issues
• 70 million lost working days due to mental health problems
Small business often already have measures in place to improve the wellbeing of their staff which are not necessarily part of a mental health initiative. The tips and suggestions included in the guide aim to add to and complement what businesses are already doing; in the context of mental health.
The guide covers what mental distress looks like, with some key questions to help identify behaviours that indicate distress, and sets out some low-cost, simple actions that businesses can take to create a supportive working environment with considerations for mental health. It suggests ways to help businesses increase productivity, improve staff performance and save money.
Here are some of the top tips from the guide:
- Consider the surroundings
Make sure that work environments are suitable for the task. Noise, temperature and light levels can all have an impact on wellbeing. Where possible and suitable to the business consider space dividers and quiet spaces to help improve the work environment
- Make it easy to talk
Encourage and promote an open environment at work. Employees need to feel confident and supported if they choose to be open about their mental health issues. And remember, it is their choice whether to disclose and sensitive personal information should remain confidential
- Set clear and realistic deadlines
Set reasonable and agreed deadlines for work completion and involve the employee in the planning of their workload where possible
- Support development
Create clear supervisory and appraisal structures involving the employee and ensure you take into account the views of employees with respect to job satisfaction and career development
You can read the full guide here for more suggestions of small changes SMEs can make to tackle the causes of mental health issues at work and support staff more generally in the workplace. There are many more tips and resources available on the Mind website to support businesses of any size to support staff with mental health.