With one in six employees experiencing mental ill health, organizations are – now more than ever – expected to have measures in place supporting workplace wellbeing. Nike, for example, hit headlines in August last year for giving its staff a week-long mental health break. But what can smaller businesses, with limited time, money and resources, do to help their staff?

Train managers in supporting mental wellbeing

‘Training managers for effective leadership, organization and planning is essential, but small businesses need to go further. They need to provide managers with specific training on how to offer mental health support to colleagues – both in person and virtually. Managers should be able to encourage and help employees to use the available resources.’

Move beyond standard, treatment-centric employee assistance programs (EAPs)

‘EAPs are critical for those already experiencing mental ill health. But small businesses also need to put preventative measures in place. These measures should focus on seven crucial areas: connecting with people to find support, monitoring stress levels, taking time off from work, drawing the line between private life and work, staying physically active, getting enough sleep, and finding purpose. By encouraging staff to proactively take care of these seven crucial areas, employers reduce the risk of mental ill health from appearing in the first place – and create a healthy, happy team.’

Fight the stigma

‘Employers should position mental health as something to be understood, nurtured and celebrated in the daily routines of any business. To achieve this, employers and managers can start by talking about their own struggles with mental health, and encourage honest conversations across the workforce.’

Underline the relationship between inclusivity and mental health

‘Lackluster initiatives to promote diversity and equality often lead to mental ill health among minority groups who might struggle to access support. Offer resources that cover a wide range of topics, delivered on various channels, which are accessible by everyone.’

Provide employees with connected mental health tools

‘Since the pandemic hit, we have seen a rise in virtual mental health tools, such as apps, videos and articles. These tools should be accessible to all employees and, most importantly, work in tandem with them. Employers should organize these tools on a single platform that employees can easily access from anywhere.’

A version of this article was published in the Courier Weekly newsletter. For more insights, analysis and inspiration, sign up here.

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