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Mental health taboo still prevalent in workplaces

Employee well-being is vital for business success, especially for SMEs with tighter budgets and smaller teams. A survey by London-based Pace HR reveals only 15% of employees are satisfied with their work-life balance, and just 31% feel comfortable discussing mental health with managers. Promoting a supportive environment can enhance engagement, reduce absenteeism, and boost productivity.

No matter the size of your company, the well-being of employees plays a key role in the overall success and sustainability of your business. But, in particular, SMEs often operate with tighter budgets and smaller teams, where every employee’s contribution is vital. However, survey data, a London-based HR consultancy, sheds light on the current state of mental health in the workplace.

The consultancy analysed anonymous employee engagement surveys from the past year, revealing that only 15% of employees are satisfied with their work-life balance.

Responding to these findings, a spokesperson for Pace HR commented: “In an ideal world, work should be a space where we can develop, find purpose, and connect with others. But the reality is that, for many people, it is just a means to earn a living and can be a source of stress.”

“There is a big difference between feeling stressed at work and experiencing mental health problems because of work,” they added. “The latter can lead to constant tiredness, feeling worried all the time, and burnout, which makes it hard to unwind, chill out, and enjoy your free time.”

Moreover, the survey revealed that less than a third (31%) of employees feel comfortable discussing their mental health with their manager, and only 11% say there is someone at work they can confide in.

Mental health often remains the elephant in the room in many workplaces. “If employees are too scared to approach managers and leaders about their struggles, problems can spiral out of control.”

“Supporting employees’ mental health shouldn’t be left to just the senior team. Generally, people feel more comfortable talking to colleagues at their own level. By encouraging your employees to become well-being champions, people can discuss their issues openly without fear of being judged or that their mental health might hinder their career progression.”

“Equally, it’s important that employees receive training on managing mental health and have access to support if they need it.”

“When it comes to raising awareness about mental health, HR leaders should take advantage of internal communication channels. From sharing blogs full of helpful tips and providing fact sheets that debunk the myths about mental health to making sure that resources are available to employees, it is important to keep your team in the loop and let them know about your well-being policies and procedures.”

By fostering a supportive environment where mental health is prioritised, SMEs can enhance employee engagement, reduce absenteeism, and improve overall productivity. Moreover, promoting a culture that encourages open dialogue helps create a more inclusive and resilient workplace.

It is also crucial for employees at all levels to feel unashamed when discussing their mental health with colleagues.

“Hiding your struggles can make you feel worse. When addressing the issue with your manager, it is important to not just focus on how you feel but also how your mental health is affecting your work and productivity.”

“If you can’t put it into words or are nervous about talking to your manager, write it down first and send an email. You can always get a friend or family member to check if it makes sense first.”

“You can choose how much you want to share. You do not have to reveal the name of your condition. But be careful when using words like ‘stress,’ as they can have various meanings and can be easily misinterpreted. If you have consulted a doctor and have a diagnosis, it’s okay to inform your employer that you’re unwell.”

“If you are finding it hard to talk to your manager, it is a good idea to get support from a mediator. You don’t have to handle this by yourself if you don’t want to. Help is available from various sources such as your HR department, a trusted coworker, an occupational health officer, or even someone from ACAS. They will be by your side to support you throughout your journey.”

*Pace HR

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