Director of Corporate
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Line managers are often among the first to know when someone has a health concern. The first you speak to when you call in sick, the first to notice a change in behaviour, and perhaps the first port of call for someone who is unwell or struggling.
Yet poor management can be blamed for many wellbeing concerns. Our research with the CIPD found the main cause of work-related stress in 62% of organisations was heavy workloads. Plus, over two-fifths (43%) identify management style as a main cause of stress, and 13% say a lack of employee support from line managers contributes too.
What appears to be lacking is support for line managers themselves. Training provides the basis for effective health and wellbeing strategies, and for managers to support wellbeing, it must include these essential elements:
Our research with the CIPD shows just 18% of organisations say managers are confident, and competent, to spot the early warning signs of mental ill health. Prevention and early intervention underpin effective wellbeing support, especially for mental health. For this to happen though, managers need to be able to identify when something’s wrong, so they can reach out to employees and help them access support they need.
Of course line managers can’t be health experts, but it’s crucial they know where to direct people to for further help. Despite this, less than a third of organisations say managers are confident in signposting staff. Make sure line managers are kept up-to-date with what tools are available in your organisation, and crucially, how they can be accessed; maybe a GP service, health plan, or employee assistance programme (EAP).
In nearly two-thirds of organisations, line managers have responsibility for managing short-term absence, and two-fifths for long-term absence. Yet out of these, a quarter don’t train managers for managing absence. Line managers need to be aware of company policies and understand how to help people get back to work through making adjustments to the working environment, or work patterns.
Undoubtedly, line managers play an important role in workplace wellbeing. And there’s a clear need for businesses to invest in management training, and create a holistic wellbeing strategy that includes initiatives to help curb unhealthy practices in the workplace.