How Do I Create A Healthy Workplace?
This section is full of useful advice on how to ensure your workplace is as healthy as it can be.
We also cover things like recruiting new staff who disclose a mental health condition and helping people returning to work after a period of mental ill health, as well as supporting staff at work with mental health problems.
What is workplace stress? When thinking about stress it's important to emphasise the difference between positive pressure i.e. pressure which can help staff produce good performance, and harmful stress which can lead to mental health problems.
An employer has a duty of care to ensure that a workplace is a healthy one for employees.
Tackling Stress in the Workplace
There are certain things any employer can do to tackle stress at work
These 'stress busters' include:
- Provide stress management courses for staff see additional support.
- Ensure there is time for staff to feedback how they are feeling in meetings or at reviews and appraisals
- Monitor stress at work see our health check
- Be willing to talk openly with employees
- Provide information about your company EAP programme
- Create a no-blame culture
- Encourage clear, open and honest communication
- Be positive about reasonable adjustments
- Provide training on how to recognise mental health issues see additional support
- Create a pleasant environment to work in, try adding plants and pictures
- Ensure staff take their lunch breaks and monitor working hours
- Arrange occasional team building events
So how do you maintain a healthy workplace? Sometimes stress is unavoidable at work but there are plenty of things you can do to help people handle it like:
Have clear statements and policies on mental health
so that employees feel secure in disclosing mental health issues. See our guidance on developing a mental health policy.
Provide assertiveness, leadership and interpersonal skills training
These training courses are really valuable in helping people recognise and review their management and communication style and the impact this has on other people. See additional support.
Encourage group cohesion
Through team meetings and bonding events to ensure that any individual managing a mental health condition isn't isolated from the group.
How Can I Health Check My Workplace?
Download the two attached questionnaires to assess how healthy your workplace is. One is for you the line manager and one is for your team.
They incorporate the Health and Safety Executive's (HSE) six stress factors around the areas of demands, control, support, relationships, roles and change.
Line managers health check questionnaire - (pdf download - 75KB)
Team health check questionnaire - (pdf download - 62KB)
There is also a more detailed wellness diagnostic tool available for you from a company called Corporate Heart for more information visit additional support and see wellness management.
How Do I Set Up An Early Warning System?
To help recognise early signs of mental health issues you could build a monitoring process into your management system.
Here are some good steps to take.
- Use supervision/appraisal/reviews to talk to staff about any issues or concerns they may have
- Provide relevant training to enable staff to recognise when they are feeling stressed
- Provide information about available services which will help staff feel confident about the support available. See our internal support suggestions.
- Create a culture in which staff feel comfortable disclosing mental health issues to you. See our suggestions in enabling employees to disclose.
- Regularly monitor how your staff are feeling. See our questionnaires to help you health check your team.
Remember, relationships play a key role in managing workplace stress. The more open these are and the more you listen, the more you will be able to spot early signs of stress quickly. Tackling problems early is important - don't ignore things in the hope they may go away and don't let problems fester.
Finally, the best way to identify early signs of stress or a mental health problem is to talk to your staff. By using common sense and natural care instincts you will get more honest feedback.