Supportive culture | How to provide better mental health through risk assessment

How to provide better mental health through risk assessment

By Tracey Ward, Head of Business Development and Marketing at Generali UK Employee Benefits

No amount of fruit bowls, motivational talks and mindfulness apps will paper over the cracks of a toxic or non-supportive culture.

It’s all very well giving employees tools for staying mentally healthy, but employers, managers and supervisors must also play a more active role in creating a working environment that is psychologically safe for them. And many organisations clearly still have some way to go.

According to the latest UK Labour Force data, in 2019/20 stress, depression or anxiety accounted for 51% of all work-related ill health cases and 55% of all working days lost due to work-related ill health.1

Very timely

The recent release of the ISO45003 global psychological safety standards have helped place this issue in the spotlight for organisations as a whole, not just the Health & Safety department.

Generali UK, in partnership with Generali Employee Benefits Network (GEB) and FlourishDx recently hosted a virtual workshop to help HR, Work Health & Safety and Employee Benefits better support line managers in creating a psychologically safe and healthy workplace.

Here’s a summary of the main messages.

The new standards

This June saw the release of the first global guidelines focusing on psychological health and safety in the workplace: ISO45003, Occupational health and safety management – Psychological health and safety at work: managing psychosocial risks - Guidelines.2

These standards are truly international, resulting from the collaboration of 75 different countries and, although they are not actually law, it is likely that international clients will want to align with them.

They detail a number of different action topics that organisations may wish to consider, although smaller organisations may prefer only to address certain ones.

Core messages

The highest priority highlighted by the guidelines is eliminating working conditions that threaten safety, health and wellbeing. And to achieve this requires a cross-functional approach, integrating HR, risk management and occupational health and safety.

Together they can develop a mental health strategy that, aligned with best practice and focusing on the elimination and prevention of risk, concentrates not only on the prevention of absenteeism but also a reduction in claims on your health, disability and income protection schemes.

Such a strategy involves getting under the bonnet of your organisation and your people to identify the current – and potential future – causes of mental health issues. Organisations need to follow an approach that is based on the shared responsibility of employer and employee. The employer needs to change the strategy from putting the sole responsibility for mental health on the individual and rather approach the topic with changes to processes, procedures, and culture. Only then can you design a needs-based support and self-care programme and target interventions appropriately.

With most organisations this is clearly needed, because a spot poll at the beginning of the workshop revealed that 100% of attendees had neither a mental health strategy nor a psychological risk assessment process in place.

Mental health audit

With many organisations, the main two interventions put in place include an EAP and a mental wellbeing platform.

But in order to align with the guidelines and create a psychologically safe workplace, a more systematic and organisation-focused strategy needs to be adopted. The actions required to do this can be identified by performing a workplace mental health audit, access to which, GEB and FlourishDx offer free of charge. The report resulting from this, flags up critical and desirable steps that must be taken to align with the guidelines.

One of the critical steps required is to understand your organisaton’s psychosocial risks. To do this, organisations must undertake a risk assessment which can be done using FlourishDx (GEB offers preferred pricing). With this tool, common hazards identified include those involving workload, autonomy, role clarity, reward and recognition and organisational justice.

A chance to flourish

The FlourishDx platform provides tools that can help users to align with ISO45003, understand their psychosocial hazards and be given the steps and toolkit to remove them.

It can enable them to work through various action topics, or the particular priorities they’ve identified, and provide an action plan to be followed, including the implementation of training and learning programmes.

Help is also available with drawing up risk assessment surveys and checking the moods of employees via an employee wellbeing check-in.

Get started today

It’s worth speaking with your group income protection, health or disability provider for help. For example, all of Generali UK’s clients are offered a free one-to-one workshop via GEB and FlourishDx – and it’s recommended this is used for a combination of cross-functional colleagues, including colleagues from HR, Work Health and Safety and Reward and Benefits.

Support also includes a range of free resources to help companies start their journey, regardless of whether or not they already have a strategy in place. This includes:

  • A free eLearning course on the new ISO45003 guidelines

  • A free mental health strategy eGuide

  • Free tools to engage employees with mental health topics

*To receive a recording of the 45-minute ‘Develop a Mental Health strategy that works for your people & your business’ workshop, hosted by Generali UK, in partnership with GEB and FlourishDx, please email [email protected]

Find out more about Generali

1 Health and Safety Executive, Work-related stress, anxiety or depression statistics in Great Britain, 2020, Nov 2020
2 International Organisation for Standardisation, ISO45003: 2021 [Accessed July 2021]

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Generali UK Employee Benefits

Generali UK provides Group Life Assurance, Group Income Protection - plus added-value wellbeing services - to the UK employees of multinational clients. Generali UK is also pioneering Wellbeing Investment Matching, helping clients fund discrete, tailored wellbeing initiatives where a need has been identified.

Access to a range of multinational pooling and captive solutions is available via: Generali Employee Benefits Network (GEB), and a range of non-life coverages is available via Generali Global Corporate & Commercial.