As a manager, it’s important to take steps to support your staff’s mental health and make reasonable adjustments to accommodate the needs of an employee with mental health concerns.
There are obvious ethical and legal reasons for supporting an employee with a mental health condition, but it is also in the best interests of the employer. Research shows that a lack of early intervention for employees with mental health conditions costs Australian businesses more than $6.5 billion each year.
Taking mental health concerns seriously and treating employees with compassion is also important for morale. Workplaces that prioritise wellbeing have better employee satisfaction, retention and productivity.
These tips can help you support a staff member with mental health concerns:
Explore flexible work arrangements.
If the nature of the work permits, a staff member with a mental health condition can benefit from flexible work hours or occasionally working from home. When someone is struggling with their mental health, sleep patterns and energy levels might not coincide with normal work hours. Flexibility enables them to complete tasks when they are most productive, or work from the comfort of their home.
Allow time off.
Make it clear that if someone needs time off for mental health reasons, the company will support and even encourage this. Sadly, there is still a lot of stigma surrounding mental illness. This leads many people to feel guilty or embarrassed about taking “mental health days”. Time off, even 30 minutes to take a walk in the park, 15 minutes to do a breathing/mindfulness exercise or an hour to see a counsellor can prevent mental health issues getting worse. This also shows kindness towards your employee, which goes a long way in reducing stress, enhancing wellbeing and creating a sense of safety at work.
Seek support from an Employee Assistance Provider (EAP).
As an EAP provider, our services are designed to support the emotional and mental health of your employees. When a staff member is experiencing mental health issues, seeking professional support is the best way to keep them safe and well. It’s also the simplest way to uphold your employer obligations and ensure your employee can fulfil their role productively.
Develop a clear work plan and review regularly.
Uncertainty around expectations and responsibilities can create unnecessary stress, especially for someone with a mental health condition. Work with your employee to create achievable goals and realistic expectations. This might mean asking their team members to assist with easing the workload while your affected employee gets back on track. Regularly review their progress and provide positive and constructive feedback.
Our short course, Mental Health Awareness & Response, will help you better understand how to talk with staff members about their mental health, adapt to their needs and take action when required.