According to a recent XpertHR benefits and allowances survey, the cost-of-living crisis has placed a significant financial strain on many employees, with the subsequent stress and anxiety of this leading to mental health issues.
As a result, employers are increasingly accommodating these needs, with almost a third (30%) of organisations offering financial wellbeing programmes tailored to help employees navigate financial hardship and achieve their financial goals. This follows on from recent research conducted by the CIPD which reveals an increase in sick days among UK workers, with mental health issues the third most cited reason for short-term absences.
According to the research, employees in the UK took an average of 7.8 sick days in the past year, figures up from 5.8 days pre-pandemic. The CIPD has attributed the rise to a combination of factors, including stress, the ongoing challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and the escalating cost-of-living crisis.
So on World Mental Health Day, here are some simple initiatives to help support mental wellness in the workplace from Sarah Mayo, a workplace mental health specialist and co-founder of POINT3 Wellbeing.
Be available for your team with regular 1:1s
Regular one-on-one meetings between managers and their team members are essential for providing ongoing support. These meetings offer a dedicated platform for employees to discuss their concerns, including those related to mental health. Managers who approach these conversations with empathy, active listening, and non-judgmental attitudes build trust and engagement.
Through demonstrating genuine care and empathy, managers can better understand their team's needs and provide tailored assistance when required. These 1-1s not only address immediate issues but also help build trust and rapport, fostering a supportive work environment where employees are more likely to reach out for help when needed.
Upskill in management and mental health training
Managers play a pivotal role in supporting employees' mental health but to effectively fulfil this role, they may need to build their emotional intelligence in the workplace as well as mental health awareness. Managers who undergo mental health training are more likely to recognise signs of distress, promote a stigma-free environment, identify issues, offer appropriate support and learn how to initiate conversations about mental well-being.
Identify and create support systems
Managers who actively seek out ways to identify and establish support systems within their teams will be rewarded with higher engagement levels and productivity. Recognising the unique needs of each employee is essential. By fostering open communication and empathy, managers can create an environment where employees feel comfortable discussing their challenges.
Following this, they can implement peer support networks or employee resource groups focused on mental health. These systems provide employees with a safe space to share experiences and coping strategies, reducing feelings of isolation.
Introduce mental health and wellbeing training sessions
A proactive approach to mental health includes offering regular training sessions focused on mental well-being. These sessions can cover topics such as stress management, building resilience, and work-life balance.
Managers who encourage employees to attend mental health sessions and participate themselves are more likely to see positive engagement. This signals the company's commitment to mental health but also provides valuable tools to navigate these challenges.