Mental ill health in workers can have an enormous impact on the individual, their colleagues and customers, and the performance of the organisation, especially due to absenteeism and reduced worker productivity.
In recent years, the effects of unchecked bullying and similar poor workplace practices on mental health have been brought to wider public attention, with the media spotlight trained on tragic cases in which managers have failed woefully to protect workers’ mental health and safety.
However, less obvious issues relating to workplace culture and design can also have an impact on the mental health of the workforce.
Some of the factors that can be considered in an organisation in order to improve workplace culture and the management of mental health include:
- Job Design – risk to mental health is increased when workers feel they have no control over their job. Organisations should look at mechanisms to increase employee participation in decision-making about how work tasks are to be done and provide flexibility in working hours when possible.
- Maximise organisational resilience – develop and implement systems that ensure the organisation is well placed to protect worker mental health. Provide training to ensure that ensuring senior management understand and are committed to identifying mental health and psychological safety issues. Implement anti-bullying policies. Develop team-based activities designed to boost morale. Be sensitive to increased worker stress during times of change management and try to ensure that worker perceptions of fairness and justice in the workplace are given consideration when making and communicating management decisions.
- Maximise individual resilience – ensure that workers have received (and understood) the appropriate training to enable them to perform required tasks, support this with coaching and mentoring, deliver stress management training, and develop workplace-based physical activity programs in the workplace. Implement a formal Employee Assistance Program.
- Encourage communication – provide channels for non-judgemental reporting of concerns and undertake regular wellbeing checks especially for those in high-stress occupations.
- Provide support – ensure that appropriate return-to-work programs and support from properly trained supervisors are available for workers who have suffered from a mental illness absence from work.
- Reduce stigma – run mental health first aid programs and opening discuss management concern for mental wellbeing as mechanisms to reduce stigma and encourage early communication of problems.
Please contact QRMC for more information.