12.5* million days are lost due to work-related stress, depression or anxiety, so it’s not surprising that employers are keen to find ways to reduce stress in the workplace. With April being Stress Awareness Month The Health Insurance Group offers 10 top tips to help employers support the mental health of their workforce. Contributor Brett Hill, Managing Director – The Health Insurance Group.
1: Identify triggers
It’s important to get to know what the causes and triggers of stress are in the workplace. Knowledge is power, and this will help build a plan of how to tailor stress management for a particular environment.
2: Empower managers
Managers play a pivotal role in supporting staff. Employers should offer management training that develops good management practices and include specific mental health training, to equip them to identify and manage mental health issues proactively.
3: Select affordable support service to get business buy-in
Providing mental health support doesn’t have to add additional cost. Support may already be included within your existing employee benefits. Private medical insurance, group protection products, employee assistance programmes can all provide support for mental health. It’s important to look at what cover is already in place.
If additional support is required, look for solutions that offer good value for money to ensure you are able to get buy-in from the business.
4: Personalise support
Everyone deals with stress differently. Employers need to offer a range of support to ensure everyone has access to something that is appropriate for them.
5: Signpost support
Good support will not help if employees are unaware or uncomfortable using it. Train managers to signpost staff to the most appropriate support when an individual is struggling and under stress.
6: Embrace technology
Smartphones are an increasingly effective tool that can be used to engage staff, communicate initiatives and enable them to monitor their stress levels. Use them to promote the mental health support. Technology can also help leadership teams manage mental health by providing anonymised data which can be used to identify patterns and highlight high-risk areas. Forward-thinking companies will look at how to embrace technology to help support mental wellbeing.
7: Encourage physical activity
Physical and mental health are closely connected, so much so that, according to mental health charity Mind, regular exercise can be more effective at treating mild to moderate depression than taking antidepressants**. Encourage staff to participate in active pastimes and sport.
8: Offer financial advice
Money worries are a common cause of stress. Offering financial advice, debt counselling and money management can help remove or reduce this source of stress.
9: Keep the focus on mental health throughout the year
Although April’s designation as stress awareness month provides a good opportunity to review the support you have in place, supporting mental health should not be an isolated event once a year. Roll out a calendar of events during the year that promote good mental health and wellbeing, and remind employees about the support that is available should they need it.
10: Don’t forget about HR
Being responsible for the staff in an organisation does not make an individual immune from stress. HR Managers often carry the burden of other people’s problems as well as their own. It is essential that HR managers are not forgotten. Employers should ensure they have all the tools available they need to manage absence so that they are well positioned to spot patterns and help the organisation to manage stress.
Brett Hill, managing director, The Health Insurance Group, said: “As April is stress awareness month it is a great opportunity for employers to look at how they are nurturing good mental health in the office by reducing stress. There is a human and an economic cost attached to stress. By following these top tips organisations can make their workplaces better places to work.”