Mental Health Awareness Week should be a catalyst for thinking and doing more to promote positive mental health in the workplace. In light of this, mental health charity MIND recently visited our offices to run educational workshops for staff and promote awareness around many prevalent issues which are not spoken about nearly enough.
A common precursor to many more serious issues is the matter of being over-stretched at work. Burnout can lead to both physical illness like heart problems and a low immune system, and mental health problems such as anxiety and depression, so it’s vital that staff become self-aware and learn to regularly check in with their mental well-being.
HR are in the prime position to take the lead in tackling workplace stress. By openly discussing the issue with employees and highlighting prevention techniques, HR can ensure that workers are happier and more productive.
So what can HR do to prevent burnout?
Make HR a Welcoming Place
Employees need to be informed about the support available from the HR department. The danger with assuming that employees know you are there to help is that whilst they may be aware of this, a lack of communication may give staff the perception that you are too busy to make time for them.
There are plenty of ways to ensure your employees know how you can help them with workplace stress. These include a presentation, an email sent round to all staff and posters or leaflets which can be left on employee’s desks.
Although it’s important to make employees feel comfortable about approaching you, it is also necessary to be clear about what your support entails. For those struggling with mental health it may be that you simply provide the portal and relevant contacts to them so they can speak with counsellors who are equipped to appropriately help them.
Promote Well-being in the workplace
It’s important to encourage staff to put their health first. There are plenty of ways to do this such as:
- A mindfulness or yoga session at lunch time or after work
- Invite a mental health charity such as MIND into the workplace to provide staff with information and support
- Set up sports or exercise groups
- Provide staff with discounts or benefits to improve their well-being such as free counselling, a gym membership or discount
- Plan fun staff events such as seasonal parties or weekend trips to boost morale and give staff a deserved break
Anonymous employee surveys are a great way of discovering the hidden problems behind a workforce. If you’re concerned about how to word the questions due to the sensitive nature of the topic or don’t know where to begin MIND can provide you with a Workplace Wellbeing Index, including an employee survey to assess where the gaps lie between your organisation’s approach to well-being and staff perceptions, as well as an analysis of the results.
For more on helping employees deal with stress click here to read previous blogs on the topic.
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