World Mental Health Day and the surrounding wellbeing focus may be over for another year, but looking after your team consistently for the other 364 days is just as important.
That’s the message from the health and wellbeing specialists at Paycare, who have developed an employer checklist to ensure a continuous focus on the issue.
It comes after 18 months of turmoil have highlighted just how essential a supportive environment, effective policies, and a progressive culture are to the health and happiness of teams and the resulting success of the company.
Kerry B Mitchell, manager at Paycare Wellbeing – a division of the overall not-for-profit organisation, said there were certain actions which should be undertaken as a matter of course by team leaders and managers.
“By regularly checking in on staff, updating wellbeing policies and procedures, and having genuine two-way conversations with their teams, organisations can ensure mental health isn’t simply a once-a-year focus but is an integral part of the culture.
“The benefits to individuals are clear, but so too are the benefits for the organisation itself: lower absence rates, less presenteeism, raising team morale, attracting higher quality candidates, and much more.
“That’s why we have developed our employer checklist, and why we’re here all year round to support team leaders and managers who want to gain knowledge about mental health, or need a helping hand to support the implementation of new policies and procedures.”
At least weekly:
- Are you checking in on your team members? Not just asking ‘how are you’ as you pass in the corridor, but starting a meaningful conversation (you may need to ask them twice how they are to elicit the real answer) and querying their workload, stress levels and if there’s anything you can support them with.
- We could all do something better when it comes to our own wellbeing – and it’s important to model good habits yourself. If you’re staying late every night, eating lunch at your desk, and not getting enough fresh air then your team may think that’s expected of them too – whatever you’re telling them. Actions speak louder than words, so regularly analysing the wellbeing behaviours you’re modelling for your team and the message that gives out can be really impactful.
At least monthly:
- Depending on the size of the team, appointing a Wellbeing Champion or putting together a Wellbeing Focus Group can greatly assist in ensuring the needs of everyone in the team are put forward. Scheduling regular Wellbeing Group meetings, or one-to-ones with the Wellbeing Champion, means they can put forward any ideas which have come from the team, highlight any areas of concern, and give an opinion on any new policies, practices or workplace benefits you may be thinking of introducing.
- There are so many opportunities when it comes to mental health – whether that’s taking part in webinars or courses, bringing experts in to talk about key wellbeing issues, or putting on sessions centred around relaxation, mindfulness or a related topic. Actively sharing or organising these opportunities again ‘shows’ rather than ‘tells’ staff you care about their health.
Every few months:
- Sharing information within the workplace is a fantastic way of focusing on specific wellbeing topics, highlighting support available to the team, and encouraging an open culture around mental health. Posters can be displayed on restroom doors and in other key places, and information can also be shared on your organisation’s intranet or messaging service for those working from a different location. Changing this information regularly helps keep it current, and at the forefront of the team’s minds.
- While everyone has ‘mental health’, an estimated one in four people struggle with ‘mental ill health’ in any given year. Where people have a diagnosable condition such as bipolar, anxiety, depression, or schizophrenia they may need ongoing support from their workplace to assist them in managing their symptoms. This may vary over time, and so too may any alterations you’ve made to their role or workday to accommodate their needs.
At least yearly:
- Do you have a range of Mental Health First Aiders? While their training may not need to be updated annually, staff turnover or team members moving into different department may mean more people could do with undertaking training.
- How’s your Workplace Wellbeing Policy looking? Over time, the needs of your team may change and that’s why a watchful eye over your policies is ideal. Through times of transition (like a merger, introduction of remote working, or a restructure for example) it can be even more important to evaluate whether your policy needs updating.
An easy task to tick off your checklist is reading Paycare’s Workplace Wellbeing Brochure, which is designed to share a range of policies and practices which would be of benefit to any organisation looking to introduce or strengthen their existing offering.
Visit www.paycare.org/workplace-wellbeing to read the brochure.