As a small business owner, it is your job to hire and retain the right employees. As unemployment continues to decrease it is getting harder and harder to find the right talent. It is also becoming more important for small business owners to care about the well-being of their employees. Now, it is not your job to become a therapist but employees often see their coworkers and boss more often than they see their family. Understanding what steps to take when concerned about an employee’s mental health will help make you a better, more informed employer.
How to Spot Mental Health Concerns in The Work Place
There are many small signs you can look out for as an employer and business owner to help you get ahead of your employee’s mental health.
- Change in behaviour
- Change in mood
- Disengagement in their tasks
- Lower work performance
- Increased absence or tardiness
- Increased risk-taking behaviour (paired with other signs)
Strategies to Support Employee Mental Health
A healthy workforce leads to increased productivity, lower absenteeism, and higher employee retention. Here are some strategies you can use in your business to help support your employees.
Create a Positive Work Environment
A positive work environment is essential for the mental well-being of your employees. Encourage positivity and gratitude by recognizing employees’ achievements and contributions. Foster an inclusive workplace culture by promoting respect, collaboration, and open communication.
Provide Mental Health Resources
Offer your employees access to mental health resources such as counselling, support groups, and employee assistance programs. These resources can help employees address mental health challenges before they become more serious. They can all be offered and addressed under your employee benefits plan.
Encourage Breaks and Rest Periods
Encourage your employees to take breaks throughout the day to rest and recharge. Consider implementing a flexible work schedule that allows employees to take time off when needed. Encourage them to disconnect from work after hours and prioritize self-care.
Offer Wellness Programs
Offer wellness programs that promote physical activity, healthy eating, and stress reduction. Consider partnering with local gyms or wellness centers to offer discounts to your employees. Learn how to choose the best mix of benefits for your employees.
Promote Work-Life Balance
Encourage work-life balance by offering flexible work schedules, telecommuting options, and paid time off. Make sure that employees are not working long hours or overworked, which can lead to stress and burnout.
Train Managers on Mental Health
Provide training to managers and supervisors on how to identify and support employees who may be struggling with mental health challenges. Encourage them to have open and supportive conversations with their team members about their mental health.
Normalize Mental Health Conversations
Encourage open conversations about mental health in the workplace. This can help to reduce stigma and create a more supportive environment for employees who may be struggling.
By implementing some or all of these strategies, as a small business owner you can begin to help improve how your employees view mental health in the workplace. One important topic in mental health is open communication. By creating clear lines of communication you as a business owner will better understand how your employees feel and how that is affecting your business.
Improving Communication Between You and Your Employee
Effective communication is key to building strong relationships with your employees and improving overall workplace morale. Here are some ways you can support communication in your workplace.
- Be clear and concise
- Listen actively
- Show empathy
- Give constructive feedback
- Avoid negative language
- Celebrate successes
Foster better communication and collaboration in the workplace, and build stronger relationships with your team.
What to Do When You Are Concerned About an Employee
You are not a therapist or medical professional but as a person in a position of power, you may be the only one to spot important cues in your employees that lead you to believe they may be showing signs of mental health concerns.
If an employer is concerned about an employee’s mental health or well-being, there are several steps they can take.
Approach the employee with compassion and empathy – Start by having a private conversation with the employee to express your concerns and offer support. It’s important to approach the situation with empathy and compassion and to avoid making assumptions or jumping to conclusions.
Respect the employee’s privacy – When discussing the employee’s mental health concerns, it’s important to maintain confidentiality and respect their privacy. Only share information with others on a need-to-know basis, such as HR or their direct supervisor.
Offer support and resources: Provide the employee with information about mental health resources available to them, such as an Employee Assistance Program or mental health services in the community. Encourage them to take advantage of the resources available through your benefits program and help them set up their accounts if needed.
Consider accommodations – Depending on the employee’s situation, it may be appropriate to offer accommodations such as flexible work hours or additional support in the workplace. Work with the employee to identify any accommodations that may be helpful.
Follow up – Check in with the employee regularly to see how they are doing and offer ongoing support as needed. Be sure to respect their privacy and maintain confidentiality throughout the process.
Taking these steps will make you a better leader and allow you to improve your workplace and your employees, benefiting you and the people who count on you the most. If you have any questions about employee benefits options available to you please feel free to give me a call.