Keeping Movember Momentum
Every November, Movember takes a month to support men’s health, raising awareness for suicide prevention and poor mental health for men of all ages are two of its focus areas this year. As Movember the initiative finishes, we take a look at why mental health might be more of an issue at work than many of us realise, what employers can do to help and why it makes good business sense to create a culture of openness.
There is an increasing recognition of the impact that work-life can have on causing stress and mental illness. In the UK, ‘15% of working people have symptoms of a mental health condition’ HR mag, so it makes business sense to keep hold of the talent and experience in such a large volume of the working population. At present one of the main challenges relating to mental health, particularly in the workplace, is encouraging people to talk it, especially men; a variety of studies have shown there are a number of additional factors that make discussing mental health harder for male employees than female employees.
Only 31% of men said that they feel like their organisation makes it possible to talk openly about mental health and needs for reasonable adjustments, compared with 38% of women. (MIND).
Many also feel that work environment ‘puts pressure on male employees to maintain a strong, masculine image‘ BBC.
A further survey by Accenture Research showed that 53% of respondents believe that opening up to an employer about their mental health would be perceived as a sign of weakness.
Hiding a mental health condition leads to increased stress, isolation and a lack of confidence which prevents an individual from working to their full ability. It also means there are higher absence rates; often employees will take absence days to cope with poor mental health while disguising it as sickness, making it less easy to monitor. By opening up dialogue around mental health in a safe environment, businesses can make a huge contribution to employee wellbeing. In turn they will see the benefits of individuals working at their full potential which can only have a positive impact on overall business performance.
So what are the practical steps to consider when helping employees manage their mental health, something that is often long term health condition.
In the first place it’s important for the organisation to understand mental health, an open, well informed culture can improve employee wellbeing and recovery. Creating informative communications, learning opportunities and signing up to mental health initiatives all work well.
Running informal briefing sessions around mental health; If properly prepared for they give excellent insight into a whole range of topics and help people find ways of discussing what can seem a difficult subject. Encouraging employees with a mental health condition to have input into this process accelerates progress and enhances understanding significantly.
Mental Health first aid training teaches people on how to help an individual developing a mental health problem, experiencing a worsening of an existing mental health problem or in a mental health crisis. Like traditional first aid, Mental Health First Aid does not teach people to treat or diagnose mental health conditions. The training teaches people how to offer initial support until professional help is received or the crisis resolved.
With a more open culture in place it’s much more likely that individuals will feel comfortable talking about challenges they have, and reasonable adjustments that will support them. Kate Headley, Director at the Clear Company notes “At this point it’s worth thinking about taking a universal approach so that people don’t feel singled out. Ask people how they carry out their job and if they need support. Most of the time the adjustments required are small and inexpensive. For example introducing flexible working so that people can adapt their hours often helps massively in terms of enabling someone to stay in work and there is a clear business benefit to retaining this talent.”
This process can be made much simpler with the support of a range of technology specifically designed to support inclusion in the workplace.
Once started it’s important to keep the momentum and investing in managers and future process and policy is just as important. For example training empowers managers around having conversations and knowing what to do with requests for adjustments.
Notes to editors
The Clear Company are the recognised leaders of inclusive recruitment and talent management insight, training and technology in the UK. As employers increasingly recognise and value the essential contribution made by diverse workforces, the demand for independent thinking and clarity around inclusion is high. Established in 2003 clients such as Lloyd’s of London, Skanska, Ofcom, The Civil Service and Page Group have taken significant steps on their inclusion journey, becoming leaders in their sectors around hiring and ongoing talent management.
Products include Clear Assured & HR inclusion Software that intelligently guides organisations through their specific inclusion journey resulting in an accredited standard.Clear Learning is a digital and accredited face to face learning programme proven to improve skills and overcome inclusive hiring challenges.