Why supporting your team's mental health needs to be a priority

Business Insights

Amid constantly changing restrictions, vaccine news and imminent Brexit, this year has dealt a lot of uncertainty. For many, the ups and downs have brought new and added stresses. And this situation is likely to continue for some time, too.

The extra pressures we’re all facing mean your team’s mental health has never been more important. Giving your employees access to forums and resources will help you support them and show them they’re appreciated and valued. Ultimately, you’ll all feel the benefits as a supported team is more productive than a disaffected one.

Support breeds loyalty

One of the most vital things a business needs to succeed is loyalty. In a year where difficult decisions had to be made and many employees had to work much harder or differently, this has been truer than ever. How can we expect someone to believe in our business and give their loyalty without showing similar commitment to them in return?

Let your team know they’re supported. Keep lines of communication open and monitor burnout. Work and home life have never been so muddled, and new working conditions have contributed to a rise in working hours. Coupled with the massive shift in routine, burnout is a more serious threat than ever.

As an employer you should make sure you and your managers know how to recognise the signs of burnout. They’re not always obvious, and someone experiencing it can be unaware for too long. It tends to emerge through symptoms such as exhaustion, difficulty sleeping, irritability, trouble concentrating and depression.

Knowing the signs is one thing, but making sure you have a reliable framework to spot them is another. It’s harder now to recognise changes in people’s moods when we’re separated by screens and are generally communicating less. Those small interactions in the office are hard to recreate, and are often a good way of monitoring your team.

Try to create opportunities for casual as well as professional conversations. What media and platforms do you use to communicate? If it’s something like Slack, can you create a more informal channel to share small updates and news stories? Can you timetable regular sessions during the week to recreate the coffee break together? Just 15 minutes or half an hour of casual chatting make a difference and can help hold a team together. Taking the time to do this also gives management and leadership more chances to spot tell tale signs of burnout.

Caring more will save you money

On average, employees take seven sick days a year, according to the Centre for Mental Health. Absenteeism costs the UK economy about £8.4 billion annually, and mental health reasons are cited for 40% of all sick days. To get the most out of your employees and what they can contribute to your business, their mental health needs to be taken seriously. Treating your team compassionately positively impacts how they show up and perform. At MarketFinance we recently offered access to mindfulness app, Headspace, to all employees to promote mental wellbeing.

BT invested in employee mental health by focusing varied initiatives on prevention, early intervention and rehabilitation. This strategy saw absences drop from 2.29% to 2.11% in a year. Considering the size of their workforce, this percentage amounts to a significant number of employees. What’s more, 92% of people returned safely to their roles after using the company-funded mental rehabilitation service. And 81% of all employees ‘agreed’ or ‘strongly agreed’ that they felt their mental health was cared about by their employer, leading to the majority feeling valued. Investing in mental health initiatives make sense in the long run.

Change trickles down

As we react to an evolving public health and economic situation, navigating pivots and tough business decisions, we all need to make sure our employees’ wellbeing is supported. It's up to executives and management to lead on this front. According to Mind.org, nearly a third of employees don’t feel able to talk to line managers when they feel stressed or overwhelmed. Investing in training for middle management helps ensure that teams are well supported.

When it comes to burnout and stress, make sure you and your senior team are open and upfront with juniors. Rest and holidays are key to supporting a healthier and more productive workforce. Leadership should share mental health resources, counselling services and encourage healthy working habits. Remind your team that you appreciate their hard work and value their rest: it’s in everyone’s best interest.

By MarketFinance