How to Create a Mental Health Friendly Culture in Business
At Morson International, we have seen an increase in the number of staff coming forward to express their own struggles with mental illness and seek support. This change in attitudes presented the opportunity to strengthen our own workplace priorities towards mental health by developing effective engagement strategies that tackle the core issues. In doing so, this has enabled us to attract and retain our talented people, drive productivity and innovation and reap numerous commercial benefits that set us apart from many of our competitors.
We conducted a survey of 1,400 Morson contractors and collated findings from the Sale Sharks Community Trusts mental health awareness programme to produce a whitepaper that provides a unique insight into workplace mental health in the UK, showing the current state of affairs, the progress made to date and future objectives for employers.
The survey helped to reveal what practical steps organisations could take to improve the way they manage and support staff with mental health concerns. Two thirds (66%) of respondents said that developing the right culture was the best way to improving mental health awareness. More than 60% said more support and access to education around mental health was also needed to combat the issue and a further 53% said an anonymous support line would prove beneficial to them and their business.
Every business must begin with the basics and create a strong company culture where employees feel valued, supported and encouraged. Creating a culture where staff can be themselves makes it easier to speak about mental health concerns without fear.
Championing our employees’ mental wellbeing is part of the overall Morson Group strategy, showing our workforce that we are serious in giving them access to the support and tools they need, as and when required. The decision to disclose a mental health concern is not one that people take lightly and an open and honest culture helps to stamp out any fear of discrimination to encourage staff to come forward.
A Morson guide to managing mental health in the workplace:
- Identify gaps in your mental health aspirations and current practices to first understand what additional programmes and initiatives are required.
- Develop a mental health strategy that is championed from the top down through positive behaviours and attitudes.
- Ensure this strategy touches every part of your organisation by building wellbeing into core business values.
- Address any negative perceptions and opinions held by management and those implementing the policies.
- Train key staff in becoming mental health champions, ensuring they are handpicked based on personality, empathy and other key traits.
- Train existing and new managers on mental health and make it part of their line management role to spot the signs.
- Effectively communicate your mental health and wellbeing resources to staff.
- Ensure staff working in all locations can access the same resources and support channels with ease.
- Maintain momentum by ensuring policies are reviewed regularly for maximum impact and act on feedback from staff throughout the business to tailor policies to changing needs.
- Ensure flexibility by recognising that people need different adjustments in the workplace.
Over the coming years, we expect mental wellbeing to play an increasingly prominent role within every business, yet the attitudes of individual leaders will remain a major influence on the rate of adoption. Organisations with increasing skills shortages and strong leadership will help bring mental health in the workplace to the fore, by recognising the numerous commercial benefits it provides. By celebrating good practice and sharing the stories of what individuals face within our own organisation, we hope that other businesses can benefit from this information and insight and use it to help to kick-start their own wellbeing journey.