As an employer or manager, it is crucial to prioritise the wellbeing of your employees. This includes recognising and supporting their mental health.

Businesses that foster a culture of support tend to experience greater success in their workplaces. By creating an environment that values and addresses employee mental health, employers can enhance productivity, reduce turnover, and cultivate a positive and thriving work culture.

In this blog post, we will explore how to spot employee mental health issues and offer practical tips on how to support them.

Recognising The Signs

Spotting the signs of employee mental health is not always easy. Employees often try to hide their struggles from their team or may not show any signs that they are having issues. As a manager, it is important to be knowledgeable of the signs that could suggest employees are having issues.
Some of the common indicators or ‘tell-tale’ signs include the following:

  1. Changes in behaviour:
    This is potentially one of the most obvious ways you will be able to identify any potential issues. Employees who are struggling may communicate this through changes in their behaviour. Changes in Behaviour could include irritability, withdrawal, uncharacteristic mood swings or high emotions.
  2. Performance issues:
    Another factor that could highlight mental health issues can be changes in performance. Performance issues can look like a change in the quality of their work, missed deadlines or low productivity. It is also important to recognise when an employee may be struggling with their workload or role.
  3. Attendance and punctuality:
    If an employee is struggling with mental health, it could affect their ableness to attend work. People struggling with mental health may be absent more or frequently late. Keep an eye on attendance patterns.
  4. Physical signs:
    Mental health is our health. Those struggling with mental health may often suffer from physical symptoms. Signs of fatigue and weight fluctuations could be indicators of mental health issues. It is also important to watch out for changes in appearance. Employees may stop self-care & personal grooming, creating a noticeable decline in their appearance.
  5. Emotional cues:
    Although many people may keep their emotions hidden, employees may become emotionally distressed easier, have anxious tendencies or extreme moods. Similarly, if an employee becomes more argumentative, defensive, or displays a heightened sensitivity to criticism, it could be a sign of underlying mental health issues.
How to support employees with Mental Health issues

Recognising the signs above is crucial, but as an employer, you should also be equipped with the knowledge and skill to effectively support employees. Managers should have practical strategies and approaches to deal with any issues that may arise.

Here are some tips that Square Peg Associates recommend for supporting employees with mental health issues:

  • Create a Supportive Culture:
    Create a work environment that values and prioritises employee well-being. Encourage open communication, promote work-life balance, and ensure that employees feel comfortable talking about issues by destigmatising discussions around mental health.
  • Educate Managers and Employees:
    Provide training and resources to managers and employees on recognising and addressing mental health issues in the workplace. Equipped them with knowledge and skills to support their colleagues.
  • Create and Provide Supportive Resources:
    Create resources that employees can easily access if they are dealing with issues. Resources could include 24/7 helplines and counselling services. Make employees aware of these resources and ensure they are easily accessible.
  • Check In Regularly:
    A huge element of support is communication. Encourage regular check-ins that consider the well-being, health, and happiness of employees. Provide a safe place for these conversations. It is also a good idea for the manager/ person checking in stays consistent so that the member of staff feels valued and has a strong ally.
  • Provide Reasonable Accommodations:
    Where you can, be flexible and understanding of employees if they require adjustments to manage their mental health. Employees may request a change in hours, a lighter workload or request hybrid working.
Could I be the problem?

Whilst employees will have a whole other life outside of the workplace, it is worth asking, could factors in the workplace be affecting them?
Burnout is a highly used phrase in the industry. But what does it mean?

Burnout is physical and emotional exhaustion that results from stress and other factors in the workplace.

Symptoms of burnout include detachment, dips in performance and fatigue. Burnout tends to occur when the demands of work exceed an individual’s ability.
Here are some of the ways you can identify if the workplace is part of the problem:

  • High turnover of staff
  • Low engagement and productivity
  • High absence and sick leave rates
  • Unhappy workplaces
  • Low communication
  • No work-life balance for employees
  • Lack of opportunities

Spotting employee mental health issues and addressing them proactively is essential for fostering a supportive and productive work environment. By being attentive to signs of struggle, promoting open dialogue, and offering appropriate support, employers can make a significant difference in their employees’ well-being. Remember, creating a mentally healthy workplace is an ongoing effort that requires empathy, understanding, and continuous support for all employees.

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Published On: November 8th, 2023
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