Why being open to talk about mental health in your organization helps to shape your culture.
By Kerrie Briggs (HR Advisor)
With Queensland Mental Health week now upon us, it is a time to rethink how prepared we are as a business to deal with Mental Health.
A recent survey by the Australian Institute of Health & Welfare estimate that almost half (45%) of individuals in Australia between the ages of 16-85 will experience a mental illness at some time in their life. 1 in 5 (20%) of the population have experienced a common mental illness in the previous 12 months.
Managing and supporting people’s mental health at work is a critical and a growing challenge for businesses. Most people will be affected in some way by mental health either personally of through family or friends, so mental health is a concern for every organisation in Australia.
There are positive business reasons for supporting your employee’s mental health. Workplaces are now responding to employee engagement, flexible working, resilience and talent management leading the way for competitive advantage. Positively managing mental health in your organisation reinforces these approaches and can reap rewards in terms of improved staff morale, improved productivity and quality of work, as well as being culture building and promoting loyalty. A positive, inspiring workplace results in positive mental health. Effectively managing mental health aids in avoiding high costs associated with attendance, injury & illness. With every $1 spent on managing mental health the return on investment is $2.30.
So, as we continue through Mental Health week what can you do as an organisation to encourage employee well-being?
Consider whether your Managers are equipped to have discussions with team members
One thing we often see, when working with different organisations is that there is still some hesitation in being able to discuss mental health and understanding what needs to be done. An employers job is never to fix the issue itself, but to understand it in order to provide support and make amendments to tasks and work design where possible.
Support is critical, but this can only be achieved through active listening and understanding what it is that the team member needs.
There are very effective training courses for Managers and this is something that we recommend be considered.
Proactively support Mental Health Initiatives and communicate these internally
With so many individuals impacted in some way, showing support as a business is critical. It demonstrates an employer’s awareness of Mental Health but also tells employees that there is genuine care and desire to handle these matters sensitively and respectfully.
Queensland Government have released a free Worksafe Mentally Healthy Workplace toolkit full of tips and advice applicable at different levels of your organisation-
Advertise your Employee Assistance Program
An Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a work-based intervention program designed to enhance the emotional, mental and general psychological wellbeing of all employees and some organisations will also include services for immediate family members.
What can you do:
Incorporate details of your EAP providers details in company inductions, advertise their details on notice boards, or in coffee areas around your business so that employees know it’s OK to talk about mental health.
Exercise is a natural endorphin & serotonin booster, two things that make you feel good! Increased endorphins and serotonin can help reduce stress and symptoms of mental health conditions such as anxiety or depression.
What can you do:
Encourage exercise as part of your daily work life: have stand up meetings or walking meetings around your local area. Form a companywide walking or running group to meet after work once per week. Repurpose a meeting room one lunch time a week and offer an onsite Yoga or Meditation class, chances are you already have an employee that knows the practice and would love the opportunity to share their knowledge.
Encourage a Healthy Life Style
Diet is just as important to mental health in the same way as it is to physical health.
Healthy living means maintaining a healthy lifestyle and introducing habits that improve your health.
What can you do:
Encourage healthy eating by having a delivery of fresh fruit or healthy snacks to the office once per week. Allocate a wellness ambassador, discover if someone has a general interest in well-being and health and offer them the opportunity to roll our health-based initiatives every month, anything goes!
The key as an organisation is to incorporate positive habits that put mental health on the agenda, so start slow with small incremental changes and start with building on what you already do.
If you need assistance in implementing Mental Health initiatives in your workplace, contact Our HR Team on 1300 168 747 .
I have two- Miss Kenny for French and Miss Walter for English. Needless to say, my English is a great deal better today than my French. However, they both inspired me to learn and had a great impact on my high school days. I know we can all relate back to our favourite teacher and how they brought the best out in us and how usually we all did well in those classes. Whether they were great educators or whether it was their inspiring ways or whether they just made you feel comfortable in a world where others didn’t – you remember them.
No matter if it was five years ago or twenty-five years ago they will always be part of the fond memories of High School. Often these teachers change you or steer you on a path that helps you choose your future studies – their impact can be enormous.
So how does this relate to finding your next career move? When making decisions about your career- choose the leader or leading influence that has left the best impression with you.
Often when recruiting graduates across different sectors we have many lead up events and opportunities to meet with the future grads in different University faculties. At times they are bewildered with all the company representatives they meet as they try to determine which is the best company to work for. My advice to candidates is always the same- “Go with who inspires you! Who have you met that you want to work for? Who have you met that you think will bring out the best in you? Follow that path until there is a sensible reason not to follow it anymore.”
Seizing an opportunity with one of the “big brand” companies may be exactly what you want – but if you are not inspired then maybe that inspirational leader you met in a smaller brand company is really better for you. Think of it like that favourite teacher. If you go to work every day and surround yourself with people who lift you, motivate you and bring the best out in you – you will be better for it. It’s not a long to bow to stretch when you consider that working for a boss who actually inspires you, will probably bring the best out in you and help to advance your career in amazing ways.
“Trust is like blood pressure. It’s silent, vital to good health, and if abused it can be deadly” Frank Sonnenberg, author of Follow your Conscience.
Sarah had worked at her financial services company for three years. During that time she worked hard and fulfilled all the obligations of the role each day. However, she had not progressed further than the position that she was hired for.