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5 Essentials of a Robust Mental Health Plan for Your Business

Published October 08, 2021 -

Our modern working environment can unfortunately, present many psychological hazards.  Depending on how employers handle these hazards, these psychological threats can massively impact the mental health of workers. The hazards can potentially cause the worker to suffer a psychological injury or exacerbate a pre-existing condition. 

Hazards in the workplace can include:

  • The physical workplace environment
  • The nature and complexity of the work itself
  • Work procedures
  • Behaviour of workers towards one another
  • The structure of the business
  • The potential exposure to violent or traumatic events can be a trigger for stress
  • The introduction of work restrictions that are beyond the control of the business

Any business must do its best to commit to supporting the overall mental wellbeing of its workers.  This means ensuring that the risk of psychological and/or psychosocial injuries in the workplace are eliminated as far as is practical and that these are effectively and proactively managed through a risk management approach.

In this post, we will be looking at the 5 essentials of a robust mental health plan and why they are so important to implement for your business.

Why is a Robust Mental Health Plan so Important?

Every employer wants productivity, business growth, and satisfied customers.  Satisfied customers go hand in hand with satisfied staff. What makes satisfied staff? Being able to cope with a workload, feeling confidant and valued in their role, and getting along with their colleagues, are key attributes to a healthy workplace. 

If we look at statistics, we can see that workplace mental health compensation claims are associated with above-average absenteeism and higher than average compensation claim costs than other types of claims.  Compensation claims for mental health in Australia are around $24,000 compared to $9000 for other claims. Adding to this, a typical time off work for mental health caused or exacerbated by the workplace was 15.3 weeks compared to 5.5 for other claims.  Between 2010–11 and 2014–15, around 91% of workers’ compensation claims involving a mental health condition were linked to work-related stress. 

The most common reasons for mental health issues arising from the workplace are work pressure, or work-related harassment, or bullying.

So, we can see that businesses that do not have a robust mental health plan can incur significant human and financial costs.

The 5 Essentials

Identify Mental Health Risks

Firstly, identify the psychological triggers in your workplace, inspect the workplace in action on a normal day, is there anything you can see?  Observe how workers interact with each other/public/equipment and see if you can spot issues yourself, and importantly ask managers and staff to observe too. This might feel odd at first but seeing how staff interact with their workplace is crucial in keeping staff content in the workplace. Using surveys is an excellent way to get feedback on employee issues and satisfaction. If you have reports or reviews in your business, these are also a great way to monitor staff mental health. 

Assess Mental Health Risks

Initiate a formal process for the assessment of mental health risks.   Like other health and safety risk assessments, write down all the risks to mental health in your workplace. Is it the pressure of a high workload that never ends? Is it rapidly changing deadlines? Is it ‘banter’ between employees? A high volume of customer complaints? Lack of breaks? Mental health stresses can be subtle and individual so be sure to take your time with assessing the risks.  Perform a risk assessment that can be a written record in your business, so managers are aware of the triggers and can help staff cope. Having this written document will help you manage your plan effectively.

Control the Mental Health Risks

Of course, it’s not always possible to prevent constantly changing deadlines, negative customers, workplace banter, or high work volumes! So how do you manage these risks to mental health? Planning and prevention is key. When you know what the mental health hazards are, (from that all-important written risk assessment!) You can start the journey to prevent these risks. Controlling these mental health triggers may always be a work in progress, as risks change and fluctuate constantly and as the business and workplace evolve. 

Review your Practices

Monitor and review your risk assessment regularly, is controlling the stress hazards working? Be honest and invite honesty from employees. Remember that a workplace with good mental health is a successful growing business.

Open Dialogue

An open dialogue is fundamental to a robust mental health plan. Open discussion between employers, staff, and managers is crucial in identifying risks, assessing risks, controlling risks, and reviewing risks. Staff need to feel they can highlight issues, (they as individuals) feel are stresses without being seen differently (as perhaps problem maker or a negative colleague etc). This open dialogue will be your greatest tool in identifying risk, assessing risk, and putting into place control measures to manage employee stresses. 

In summary, consider that the most common reasons for workplace mental health issues are work pressure, work-related harassment, and bullying. Identify, assess, control, and review your mental health hazards and use open dialogue in your business to facilitate this. 

If you need HR support as a business owner, we at Employsure offer a tailored service where we can assist you in building a robust mental health plan. We also offer free initial advice too, so feel free to get in touch with us 24/7 to see how we can help your business grow. 

Download our FREE Mental Health Policy

This policy is essential for your HR toolkit.

About Employsure

Employsure is one of New Zealand’s largest workplace relations advisers to small- and medium-businesses, with over 30,000 clients in ANZ. We take the complexity out of workplace legislation to help small business employers protect their business and their people.

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