Why Employers Should Care About Mental Health In The Workplace

22nd Jul 2022

On the 24th of this month it’s Samaritans Awareness Day, with the Samaritan's running their awareness campaign throughout July, also known as "The Big Listen" #TalkToUs. To support and raise awareness, we’ll be discussing the importance of mental health in the workplace and why it’s so vital for employers to invest in overall mental wellbeing. 

Data from The Samaritans show that they respond to a call for help every 10 seconds. And, every 90 minutes, someone in the UK or Ireland takes their own life. Additionally, at least 1 in 6 workers experience mental health problems like anxiety and depression, with work being the biggest cause of stress in our lives

It’s important to recognise that mental health can affect anyone, from the CEO right through to the rest of the organisation. For some individuals, the signs might be obvious; whereas, with others, you might not recognise a person could be suffering in silence whilst putting on a front to the world.

Create an open culture around mental health in the workplace

When focusing on mental health in the workplace, it’s a must to create an open culture where employees can communicate freely about their struggles without any stigma attached. Here are some steps companies can take to cultivate this type of environment:

  • Create a mental health policy - highlighting what you as a company will do to acknowledge and support employees.
  • Ensure a good work/life blend - flexible working can play a crucial role here. Allow employees to establish a way in which they work best, whether that be flexible hours, remote working or something else. 
  • Introduce mental health training in the workplace - teaching managers and working professionals how to spot the signs of deterioration in mental health, and how to offer initial help to steer a person towards getting further help and support. 
  • Provide access or information to 24/7 support - The Samaritans is, of course, a great support for so many people. Companies can also go one step further by investing in mental wellbeing in the workplace; for example, our new partner Oliva is a digital platform that works with companies offering professional and 100% confidential support, tailored to each employee. 

How to support employees with stress

You’ll never eliminate stress from the workplace completely, but there are ways in which companies can help manage this. 

  • Recognise hard work (and stress) - words of encouragement and acknowledgement go a long way. 
  • Respect non working hours - this doesn’t just include annual leave, this includes out of hours too (most things can wait). 
  • Offer more time away from work - at Flexa, we offer 45 days’ annual leave; other flexible companies such as Farfetch, Cronofy and Paddle also offer additional or unlimited holidays. 
  • Streamline processes - by having streamlined processes, companies will save significant time in the long run, whilst cutting the time it takes for employees to complete work. 
  • Reduce meetings - 92% of employees consider meetings costly and unproductive, and meeting can be a huge contributor to stress. Across the 76 companies surveyed, it was found that employee productivity was 71% higher when meetings were reduced by 40%.
  • Be realistic with deadlines - no matter how great a person might be at their job, they need the time to complete it. Be realistic and discuss deadlines directly with employees before communicating to clients or others on deliverables. 
  • Provide support - lack of support can make employees feel alone and undervalued. 
  • Eliminate blame culture - employees can often feel afraid if they make a mistake; it’s important to remember we're all human and all make mistakes and need to do so in order to learn and progress. 
When you are promoting workplace wellbeing, make it clear to employees that it’s not just about reducing stress, it's about thriving both personally and professionally.