In CIPD's latest absence management survey they report a rise in mental health problems among employees. Two-fifths of the employers surveyed reported rises in both stress-related absences and mental health issues.
Given that stress and mental health problems are on the rise, what steps can businesses take to support their employees and minimise the impact on performance?
Tackle the root cause of stress, anxiety and depression
Employers may have developed the skills to react appropriately when employees suffer from mental health problems, but how many organisations are investigating – and treating – the root causes of mental health issues?
As Ben Willmott, CIPD's Head of Public Policy suggests, "attention needs to shift to understanding and addressing contributory factors at work."
Proactive employee wellbeing
Do you consider your employees' wellbeing when making management decisions? Do operational demands ever take precedence over employee wellbeing? Shortcuts in employee wellbeing may offer short-term gains, but long working hours, lack of work-life balance and a culture focused purely on performance are likely to result in stress.
Ben Willmott recommends that "an effective absence management approach is one which is coupled with a focus on health promotion and employee well-being."
Set absence targets
By recording employee absences you can more easily spot patterns and trends. Setting absence targets can also encourage managers to find ways to minimise absences and support employee wellbeing.
Ben Willmott suggests that "the organisations that have a target for reducing absence, or have absence levels as a key performance indicator, are considerably more proactive in their approaches. They are more likely to offer a range of well-being benefits and support rehabilitation back into work".
Train managers to tackle mental health issues
Are your managers equipped to have difficult conversations with employees? Managers are often on the front line – the first point of contact for employees experiencing difficulties. And it's crucial that managers are able to respond to employees sensitively and supportively – and understand what support they can offer in the moment.
Ben Willmott agrees: "Manager training is crucial, as they are often employees' first point of call for reporting an issue, but only 30% of organisations currently provide it."
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