As you spend more time at work, you are exposed to a range of stressors different to those you may experience at home. So, it’s no surprise that many workplaces are starting to focus more on mental health, especially when we spend most of our time in the workplace. However, mental health is often confused for unsatisfactory performance which can make the situation more challenging.
While it is not the employer’s role to diagnose mental health conditions, it is up to the employee to make their manager aware of any medical conditions that may impede their ability to successfully perform their job. But, it is the employer’s role to ensure a safe and healthy workplace for all employees regardless of whether they formally disclose mental health issues or not.
As an employee, you have a right to work in an environment that is free from illness, injury and harm. You should expect to go to work in an environment which inspires you to thrive, create and perform at your best. Therefore, your employer must identify workplace practices, actions or incidents which could cause or contribute to mental illness and be proactive in reducing or eliminating such risks.
There are many benefits to maintaining a safe and healthy workplace for mental health. The cost associated with high turnover, absenteeism and presenteeism are reduced and encourage loyalty, lower stress, improve morale and save on compensation claims and legal action.
However, not all unsatisfactory performance is caused by mental illness, but you should keep an open mind to the possibility of such when investigating the root cause when an employee’s performance declines.
People are your business. Without them the organisation would not thrive. As a business owner it is in your best interests to care about workplace wellbeing. After all, when you take care of your people, they will take care of your business. As a result, productivity and profits will grow.
How to implement safe work practices to reduce mental health risks?
Managing mental health should not be seen as a burden but as an opportunity to improve the workplace for everyone’s benefit and make people as productive as possible. The following strategies are a guide of what employers can do to reduce mental illness at work.
Strategies recommended by the Australian Human Rights Commission include:
💚 Develop a greater understanding of mental health issues;
💚 Offer flexible ways of working;
💚 Develop mentoring or peer support systems;
💚 Provide access to counselling services and/or specialist support groups; and
💚 Ensure your policies and procedures are in place and current to manage mental illness and the behaviours which can lead to mental health conditions.
The effective implementation and communication of workplace policies must include the prevention and resolution of bullying, harassment and inappropriate behaviours.
An employee whom feels supportive in the workplace will always do more than what is expected. It is important for employers to provide an environment which is safe, inclusive an promotes a supportive culture. Managing mental health should not be seen as a burden but as an opportunity to improve the workplace for everyone’s benefit and allow people to be productive and thrive.