Legal News | 18.05.22
Mental Health Awareness in the workplace
We recently marked mental health awareness week and we have since considered how loneliness can affect mental health in the workplace and how employers can help their staff in combatting loneliness.
Research compiled by Campaign To End Loneliness found the impact loneliness often has a detrimental effect on a person’s physical health through knock-on components such as smoking and drinking. They also found that loneliness could cause a person’s risk of premature death to increase by 26%.
We have reviewed the ACAS and government guidance to compile a list of key points employers could implement to support their employees’ mental wellbeing and help to reduce feelings of loneliness:
- Align with corporate values – having policies in place that emphasise an organisational culture of cooperation and connectedness is expected to result in healthier workplace relationships and reduce loneliness.
- Raise awareness of loneliness – having discussions within teams and management surrounding the shared responsibility for wellbeing and introduce a framework for positive mental health at work.
- Agree ways to keep in touch – where people are working from home, managers should try to spot signs and symptoms of loneliness. Appointing a mental health “champion” to check in on staff could help.
- Do not let things slide – an increased workload can cause initial plans on keeping up to date and in touch with each other in the workplace to trail off. Employers should discuss ideas to socialise with their employees or their representatives on a regular basis and make time to ensure everyone feels included.
- Help new starters settle in – starting a new job (or even a new role in the same business) is daunting at the best of times, but when working remotely it can feel lonely as you don’t know who to ask or when. Employers should consider how they could best welcome new starters to the business, for instance through welcome messages and possibly a buddy system, so that they feel welcome and included.
- Avoid a one-size-fits-all approach – employers should consider whether a working from home approach suits all of their employees. Talking to employees and their representatives to find out what would suit them best in terms of their workplace will help them feel included and assist with a positive outcome. What suits the majority, may not suit everyone. Where an employee has highlighted that something isn’t working for them, employers should check on them more regularly.
- Consider the layout of the workplace and working environment – employers should think about whether working from home full-time is right for their employees. Many businesses have introduced hybrid working patterns as a result.
- Space, time and opportunities for connection – with working from home, employers should consider opportunities for employees to connect with their co-workers. It may be important to encourage socialising in the workplace, as for some this could be their only opportunity to socialise in a day.
The office of national statistics found in 2020 that mental health conditions are one of the top four reasons for sickness absence in the UK. High quality connections between employees will contribute to reducing the feeling of loneliness and can result in a higher quality of work, an increase in wellbeing for employees and an engaged workforce.
For further information, or for advice in relation to an employment or HR matters please contact the Corporate and Commercial team on 01380 733300 or email firstname.lastname@example.org