Today, smart employers are realising that promoting good mental health at work is good for people and business. Producing, implementing and sharing a mental health at work plan, which details how an organisation will encourage and promote good mental health for all staff, is a key way to get started.
As we feel the impact of how the world of work is rapidly evolving, it is more important than ever that employers get ahead of the curve and plan how they will support their employee’s well-being now and in the years to come.
Workplaces are already benefitting from new technologically-enabled ways of working such as advanced communications, virtual meeting methods and online training and development tools. These help to improve work/life balance and increase employee engagement. They also facilitate moves to increased remote working, which can cause a distancing in employee relations and create an ‘always on’ culture.
A poor work/life balance can quickly lead to stress and burnout, which may lead to sickness absence. It is therefore important that your mental health at work plan sets out how you promote a healthy work/life balance for a diverse workforce. Encouraging staff, wherever or however they work, to keep sensible hours, take full lunch breaks, rest and recuperate after busy periods, avoid working at weekends and take their full annual leave entitlement can all help support good workplace well-being.
The impact of technology as well as globalisation has already led to an increase in job automation and standardisation of roles which in turn is seeing a decrease in engagement and job satisfaction as well rising stress levels. Consulting with employees on how they do their job and providing support to managers are vital to maintaining a healthy and productive workforce. Designing your plan with input from employees boosts buy-in and gives you a clearer idea of the support they might need.
If your organisation is quite large you may prefer to set up a smaller group of staff for initial consultations and another group to feedback on the finished plan. Building your plan with input from employees from across the organisation builds their commitment to supporting their own mental health and that of their colleagues.
Trust and integrity are key drivers of engagement. Organisations that support staff reap the benefits in terms of loyalty and commitment from employees. Before you begin, explain why you’re developing the plan, future plans for roll-out and review, and why employees’ views matter. This conversation doesn’t end when the plan’s finished. Set up regular communication, so you can keep asking people what works, and tweaking your level of support in response. You could also consider asking other organisations in your sector for best practice ideas.
Make sure your plan is formally written down and that staff can easily access it at all times. Putting your plan in the staff handbook, on the intranet, website or hard copies around the office is an easy way to do this.
Your plan should include:
- how you will promote the well-being of all staff
- how you will tackle the work-related causes of mental health problems including routinely taking stock of the well-being of your staff
- how you will support staff experiencing poor mental health
- signposting to relevant sources of information and support both inside and outside your organisation
- clear objectives which are shaped around your organisational vision.
We believe that everyone should have their mental health and well-being supported at work – whoever you are and whatever you do. The day-to-day demands and pressures of work should not be a barrier to good mental health.
Your mental health at work plan will help to create a positive culture where people feel able to talk about their mental health. Routinely review and update your mental health at work plan to keep it future-proofed.
With the right support in place, work can be a place where all of us can thrive.
Producing a mental health plan is a key recommendation from Thriving at Work – the independent review into mental health and employers. Read our guide on how to implement the Thriving at Work mental health standards in your workplace.
Emma is Head of Workplace Wellbeing at Mind. Emma joined Mind in 2007 and, since 2010, has led Mind’s campaigning for mentally healthy workplaces – playing a pivotal role in thought leadership to position mental health in the workplace as a key priority for employers and Government.
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