Good Mental Health is Good for Business – My Model for Managing Mental Health in the Workplace…….Part 3

In my last post, I discussed the first 2 points of my © 9 Point Approach for Managing Mental Health in the Workplace. In this post I will be discussing the next 3 Points on Risk Management, Budget and Resources and People Management.

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3. Risk Management Plan

The success of any initiative is dependent upon the level of understanding of the depth and breadth of potential issues that exist in the workplace. This can be achieved by conducting a situational analysis of your organisations current mental health status and needs. The key to conducting a situational analysis is to gather information from multiple sources and not rely on any one assessment tool. Relevant workplace data can be obtained from many different sources such as previous employee surveys, absenteeism and turnover reports, exit interviews feedback, workers compensation and OHS data.

On completion your analysis should identify:

  • indicators of mental health in the workplace
  • sources of workplace stress
  • extent of employee engagement in workplace programmes and activities
  • comprehensive understanding of the underlying issues that may initiate a mental health issue.
    • Remember to consider employee privacy and confidentiality and address any concerns employees may have about the analysis and monitoring process.

      The final important part of your risk management plan is the Action or Implementation Plan. Your plan should;

      • be based on information collected in the situational analysis.
      • include the objectives, specific strategies to be used, targets to achieve and activities to be undertaken.
      • consider how key groups and individuals will be identified and involved.
      • outline time frames, responsible people and potential obstacles.
      • include a plan to make the strategy sustainable.
      • outline a marketing and communications plan that motivates employee participation.
      • incorporates employee feedback.
        • Implementation of the Action Plan / Strategy is a sizeable task, appoint a suitable leader who will “champion” the cause.

          4. Provide Adequate Resources in the Budget

          It doesn’t matter how thorough your management plan is, unless senior management have provided the appropriate resources and budget, the strategy will not achieve the intended goals.

          In your budget remember to involve funding for mental health education and training during employees working hours.

          If you business lacks the expertise to develop and implement the strategy, consider engaging the services of an external consultant or mentor.

          5. People

          The key driver to a healthy workplace is that supervisors and managers are encouraged to have open and understanding attitudes to what people say about work pressures and other problems, and that they must be held accountable for achievement of objectives.

          Effective skills are essential for success. Training and skills improvement in the areas of stress management, emotional intelligence, self awareness, management styles, dealing with bullying, having difficult conversations, social awareness are necessary for all employees.

          Your organisation should be providing education to employees that covers basic mental health information and materials that employees can take home and share with their families.

          We know that bullying in the workplace greatly affects a persons’ mental health, it can also have a significant impact on those witnessing the bullying, their families, work team and the organisation. Each employee will react differently, reactions may include distress, anxiety sleep disturbances, impaired concentration, low self esteem or reduced work performance.

          Remember that this is a two way relationship. Employees need to take responsibility for their mental health by recognising that they have a problem, look after their own health, maintain work / life balance, take breaks they are entitled to, being considerate of others, take action on their own interpersonal problems and ask for help.

          Employers should ensure that every employee is given feedback (good or bad) about their performance, A clear appraisal process must be created where specific and work related issues can be discussed. Remember to give negative feedback in private (never in front of others) and allow employees to discuss their feelings and give feedback on how their supervisor can help them to be successful.

          Finally, employers have a clear legal obligation under work health and safety legislation to provide a safe place of work by eliminating risks (including workplace bullying and stress) in the workplace. This can be achieved through quality people management practices and specific workplace bullying strategies.

          About the Author

          I am the principal of Cartec Consulting an HR / OD company that assists business to align their people with the business strategy.

          Contact me via email on cliff@cartec.com.au or mobile on 0400 088 627