Six ways to support your workforce’s mental health in 2023

By Clare Price, below, Director of Clinical Services, Onebright

People are complex. Everyone communicates, manages their workload, and showcases their strengths in different and unique ways. That’s why it is vital for business leaders to ensure their employees have access to a multitude of support and resources to help.

Preserving a healthy workplace environment requires constant re-evaluation and updating of your mental health policies. The start of the new year is the perfect opportunity to reflect on your current mental health practices and how you can develop them to ensure each employee feels supported in an environment that encourages them to do their best work.

It is also important to remember that there is no ‘one size fits all’ and every employee and business will have unique mental health requirements. If you are looking to ensure your working environment is supportive of employee mental health, here are some tips to help with your planning for 2023.

Set achievable goals

Not meeting expectations is a common issue in the workplace that can cause employees stress and disappointment. Try to set objectives that are related to the job your team member does and are in their sphere of control. Setting objectives that people believe can be achieved relieves stress, is actively motivating, and can increase general workforce satisfaction. Reward effectiveness rather than time worked.

Be flexible in your approach

Your employees will all have different ways of working and different ways of dealing with challenges. If an employee feels like they aren’t coping with their workload, are stressed or need adaptations to their work, managers can be as flexible as possible so that they can best cater to the needs of their employees. Try to consider any modifications that can be made to your employee’s role, such as adjusting hours, workload, tactics, breaks, or perhaps providing a mentor.

Set boundaries 

Work-life balance is essential for happy and productive employees, but it is imperative to have clear boundaries in place to achieve this healthy working environment. Employees who are productive in the long-term are fuelled by regular breaks, self-care and recreational time. By clearly structuring the timing of your organisation’s working hours, with the inclusion of regular breaks and annual leave for everyone, you will help your employees find a healthy work-life balance and prevent burnout.

Provide detailed mental health training

Line managers and business leaders can often feel uncomfortable starting a conversation about mental health, or they may worry about giving the ‘wrong’ response if a team member discloses mental health concerns. Basic mental health training for all employees, especially line managers, can help dispel these fears. Mental health training can include the following:

  • Spotting the signs – How to spot behavioural changes and symptoms if an employee is experiencing poor mental health.
  • Communication skills – How to talk about it and what words are best to use/avoid.
  • Workplace adjustments and return to work – How to help integrate individuals back into the team for an effective and successful return to work.

Designate a mental health first aider 

A trained mental health first aider acts as a point of contact for employees if they are experiencing a mental health issue. The role of a first aider is to support the employee and direct them to the appropriate resources they need, even if that means seeking professional help externally.

Ensure your employees know how to find help 

It’s always a good idea to integrate a page on your internal system about how people can access your organisation’s mental health resources, as well as external resources such as NHS Mental Health. Clearly signposting any relevant resources for your team will give everyone the ability to seek the support they need

As a leader of any organisation, it is vital to look out for individuals who may need support with their mental health. Providing training for your mental health first aiders with clinically led, expert advice will ensure you are able to support employees appropriately when they require help.