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Mental Health At Work

Mental health at work

As a business owner, your most precious assets are your employees and it's your responsibility to look after the health and wellbeing of your workforce.

by Credit Passport

Running a business of any size takes a lot of time and energy, and let’s face it, can be stressful. As a business owner, your most precious assets are your employees and it's your responsibility to look after the health and wellbeing of your workforce.

Together with our partner, Superscript, we’ve come up with this wellbeing guide to support you and your staff develop healthy habits and a happy work environment.

The basics: good mental health hygiene for workers

In and out of the workplace, small changes can go a long way to workplace wellbeing. These include:

1. Socialise
Communication is critical to any relationship, so making time to connect with your employees not only strengthens bonds but can also provide a source of support if someone is feeling overwhelmed. Make time for your employees to socialise away from the workplace. Encouraging positive relationships across the team could be anything from informal catch-ups to shutting up shop early and getting a drink after work.

2. Eat well
Stress can encourage bad eating habits, leading to a slump in brain power and energy levels. Employees appreciate perks, so try keeping your staff room stocked with healthy snacks, like nuts, fruit and cereals. Encourage employees to take their lunch breaks and leave work on time to not impact their meal plans. On busy days, a lot can also be said for making sure your team is well-fed by treating them to lunch.

3. Reduce caffeine
We’re not saying to cut off the percolator, but ensure that staff have access to caffeine-free alternatives. The buzz from coffee and energy drinks is just a short-term high, which inevitably comes with a low. Curbing caffeine intake with tea or decaf coffee, particularly in the afternoon, will lessen that energy dip affecting your staff’s mood and work.

4. Exercise
Make time to exercise – it’s a great mood booster. A short twenty-minute walk gets you away from the desk and offers a change of scenery. You could try endorsing a company-wide health programme, subsidising gym memberships or again, encouraging employees to take their proper breaks or even suggest a walking meeting.

5. Get a good night's sleep
The quality of your sleep determines your attention, alertness, concentration, reasoning, and problem-solving – all skills that you'll be needing to get that business off the ground.

We’re not suggesting you start singing lullabies to your team before bed, but when it comes to work, try not to make a habit of late nights. If your team stays late, encourage them to take the time back for rest. And encourage limiting screen time (especially before bed); your eyes and brain will be grateful tomorrow.

6. Encourage healthy boundaries
As the boss, you set the tone. Healthy workplaces ensure that staff aren’t checking emails at weekends or during annual leave. Also, think twice about calling that colleague late at night and disrupting their private time.

If you absolutely must send that email outside of normal working hours, make sure the recipient knows they’re not expected to respond until they’re next in work. Better still, just use delayed send.

Providing workplace mental health guidelines

These tips are all well and good, but how can you implement wellbeing into the culture? Let’s take a look:

Mental health affects everyone
You’ll want to make a plan with your HR department (if you have one!), managers and employees about how you deal with mental health matters at work.

A good starting point is acknowledging that we all have mental health, as well as physical health, and it can fluctuate among all team members throughout all levels of your business.

Create an open environment for discussion
You don’t have to be a trained therapist to help your employees. But you should create an open and empathetic environment where conversations around mental health are supported and accepted by all members of staff. A good way of doing this is through one-on-one catch-ups, where you’re encouraged to discuss overall wellbeing, as well as business performance.

Providing immediate access to counselling for employees
Virtual therapy platforms, like Spill, Headspace and Unmind can help companies maintain good mental health among their teams. These confidential services give employees access to British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (or equivalent) accredited counsellors, while also offering a library of useful content and tailored mental health support through Slack, MS Teams and other web apps.

Is mental health covered under my employers’ liability insurance?

Employers' liability insurance (EL) covers your business for many risks relating to your employees, and in some cases can cover the cost of claims related to an employee’s mental wellbeing if they suffer extreme stress from being in a high-pressure environment at work. Work-related mental health issues can be anxiety, depression, insomnia and stress caused by workplace stress, bullying, harassment and discrimination.

EL is a legal requirement for most UK companies if you employ one or more people, but in most situations, making a claim will be a last resort for your company.

Prevention is better than cure, and while the realm of mental health management can be complicated, there are steps employers can take to support their team. These measures have the potential to empower staff to help themselves, and ultimately can reduce claims for extreme stress under your EL policy.

Mental health in the workplace needn’t be stressful. Encouraging communication and providing support across your business can go a long way in helping reduce claims. And hopefully, this wellbeing guide for SMEs goes a way to helping support you and your staff to overcome workplace stress and alleviate potential problems before they become severe and lead to claims.

If you’re struggling, be sure to approach someone you know or contact the NHS if it’s urgent.

Got some more questions about EL, the level of cover you might need, or want to find out more about the types of insurance available to businesses? Get in touch with Superscript.

Enro Ltd t/a Superscript is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. FRN 656459.

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