by Georgiana Bellenger, HR Consultant
firstname.lastname@example.org | 0333 400 7920
Stress has become an ever-growing topic in the media with celebrities including Adele, Lady Gaga and Cara Delavigne speaking out about the physical impacts of stress on their lives. It’s shining a light on the topic of stress at work and what employers should be doing to support employees struggling from the effects of stress.
Research conducted by Mental Health First Aid England (MHFA) last year reported that on average 11 million work days each year are lost to stress related absences. They also found that worryingly, only 13% of employees felt able to talk to their employers about mental health related issues.
So what are your obligations?
Employers have a duty to take reasonable care of the safety of employees including physical and mental wellbeing. Many employers still take a reactive approach to supporting employees suffering from stress-related conditions, often resulting in negative outcomes such as long term sickness absences, grievances and damage to company culture.
Here are our top tips for supporting employees suffering from stress:
1. Make Reasonable Adjustments
Try to support employees by providing reasonable adjustments within their work environment. Adjustments might include changes to working hours, reduction of work load, offering more support to enable individuals to continue working or to enable the successful return to work for those who may have been off sick.
2. Mental Health and Wellbeing Policies
Consider a proactive approach and implement mental health and wellbeing policies into your organisation or including questions on wellbeing into regular staff surveys to understand the issues employees may be facing. You could even think about introducing a Mental Health First Aider.
3. Employee Assistance Programmes
These programmes are relatively low cost but give employees the opportunity to contact impartial support via a telephone helpline who will then be able to refer them to the right help. Many private medical insurers include an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) in their corporate insurance plans so it is worth finding out if you have this and whether it is well communicated throughout your organisation.
4. Mental Health Initiatives
There are a number of growing organisations that are campaigning to increase awareness and education of mental health in the work place. You could sign up to initiatives such as Time to Change and the Mindful Employers Charter who both champion a proactive partnership between businesses and employers in dealing with health and wellbeing concerns.
Why should you bother?
Fundamentally, recognising these issues in the workplace is important, not only as a duty of care for wellbeing of employees, but because of the benefits a healthy work force brings including decreased turnover, decreased long-term sickness absences, increased productivity and the positive impacts on Company Culture and reputation as a mindful employer.