With benefits including improved productivity, reduced absenteeism, higher staff morale and retention, a healthy work environment is one that all businesses should strive for. Add to this The Black Dog Institute’s findings that every dollar spent on mental health actions delivers an average $2.30 return – investing in your employee’s health is ano brainer.
Where this should start for any business is in the development of a work health and safety policy, and more specifically, a stand alone mental health policy. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends four steps in the creation of such a policy. These steps separate the process of creating a policy into digestible pieces and form a framework for a positive outcome. Manage each of these steps and the resulting policy is likely to be strong.
1) Recognising mental health issues
While working with a large multinational to design a workplace mental health policy, Black Dog Institute conducted a series of three hour, interactive face-to-face workshops aimed at improving leadership's skills in recognising and managing mental health issues. The same process was then repeated with all staff – the idea being that the creation of a strong mental health policy shouldn't be confined to the office of the HR team.
It's important that the creation and explanation of a mental health policy starts with leadership. Without buy-in from the management team there is far less chance of success. Leadership must be shown links between mental health issues and higher costs, or lower productivity, in order for the matter to be seen as business critical.
Once you've gained the support of leadership, a steering committee should be formed, one that represents all stakeholders and allows you to gather data around health, absenteeism and WH&S. Discussions with staff and their families, combined with this data, should give a clear picture of where and why issues exist, or have the potential to exist, within the organisation.
2) Develop the policy
Outside of its vision statement, a mental health policy should also cover:
Promotion of mental health and wellbeing strategies and activities.
Provision of skills to everyone across the organisation.
Training of managers to look after their teams in a way that promotes mental health.
Reduction of any potential mental health stigma across the business.
WHO says such a policy should also contain a statement of the values and principles on which the policy will be based, as well as a set of objectives against which it can be measured. The statement should paint a picture of the future that the policy is hoping to realise.
The Black Dog Institute says objectives might focus on issues such as:
- Time pressures
- Empowerment of staff
- Job security
- Feedback mechanisms
- Team relationships
- Leadership training
- Recognition and reward
- Work-life balance
Mental health policies are not cookie-cutter documents. Each should represent the culture of the organisation in which it is being implemented.
Learn more about workplace wellness
From identifying health risk factors, to implementing wellness programs to address employee stress, at Randstad, we understand the people issues managers and HR professionals face every day. This is why we’ve created The Human Resource Guide, an always-evolving online HR resource that delivers the answers to your day-to-day concerns. It’s like having your own personal HR advisor by your side, 24/7.
Learn more about the best-practice approach to people management with The Randstad Human Resource Guide.