5 Ways to Support Your Employee’s Mental Health
Written by Team 365 finance
Mental Health Awareness Week takes place from the 15th-21st of May 2023. The event is a great time for both employers and employees to discuss any mental health challenges they’re facing, and to take a look at how to approach mental wellbeing in the workplace going forward.
To help your business prepare for Mental Health Awareness Week, we’ve put together our top 5 mental health tips for small business owners. These tips are great for increasing employee morale, which in turn can create significant benefits for the business as a whole. Keep reading to discover what these benefits are, as well as how you can improve employee mental health throughout your business.
The Benefits of Improving Employee Mental Health
One of the reasons that mental health is generally overlooked in the business world is that it’s difficult to establish a clear business case for supporting mental health, or to find a clear link between poor mental health and business failure. Societal and cultural taboos around mental health also mean that it’s difficult to address issues in an honest and straightforward fashion.
However, things have changed significantly in recent years. Cultural attitudes towards mental health (at least in the UK) are shifting, thanks in part to charities like the Mental Health Foundation and their Mental Health Awareness Week. Additionally, more and more studies reveal how supporting mental health in the workplace can benefit a business, and executives are taking note.
The most obvious and significant benefit is that happy, motivated employees mean a more successful business. Their impact is so significant that FTSE 100 companies that prioritise employee wellbeing outperform the rest of the FTSE 100 by 10%. While most companies would invest in business functions to increase profits, investing in employee morale can also result in a revenue boost.
Additionally, working to improve employee mental health can reduce the number of work days lost to illness: US-based charity NAMI finds people with depression have a 40% higher risk of developing cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. Many businesses offer welfare programs focused on employees’ physical health, yet without an equal focus on mental wellbeing, these programs may be significantly less effective.
As well as the indirect impact on physical health, mental illness can be a direct health concern in its own right. In fact, 14% of sick days are due to mental health. By supporting mental health in the workplace, a business can reduce this figure, and in doing so increase productivity (as they’ll be able to rely on their workforce to be a consistent size).
1. Build Bonds Within Your Team
A great first step towards improving employee morale is to encourage bonding between team members and different departments.
With the increasing popularity of remote work, many workers never actually meet their colleagues face-to-face, or speak with them beyond an occasional video conference. This isolation has a significant negative impact on mental health, and can even harm productivity — workers who don’t know each other are unlikely to ask for help or assist with one another’s workloads.
If you’re a business owner, not building bonds with your employees can lead to a certain level of emotional distance, simply because you don’t know them very well. Creating this distance between you and your workforce (even unintentionally) is dangerous, as treating workers as an asset rather than human beings is very bad for their mental health.
In remote teams, building social bonds can be difficult because there’s very little direct contact between team members. While it’s important to organise in-person events whenever possible, this isn’t an option for companies across different countries. Instead, try to arrange virtual meet-ups and encourage your employees to work collaboratively, so that there’s at least some communication between team members.
The key benefit of building bonds within your team is that it makes it easier for employees to talk about their problems. Even if those problems are directly related to mental health, being aware of any issues is the first step to building a better workplace, and better workplaces make for happier employees.
2. Regular Check Ins
Building social bonds within your workplace is a great first step towards supporting mental health in the workplace. However, you can build social bonds much more effectively if you make them part of an ordered and measurable strategy. If you’re trying to add a little structure to your tactics for improving employee mental health, you might consider mental health check-ins.
These check-ins are typically performed by HR staff and can be as serious or as casual as the employee prefers. Additionally, you might only implement these after an employee has spoken regarding mental health issues, rather than making them mandatory for the whole workforce.
The important thing is to make the check-ins regular, and to make sure there’s related documentation like a review form for the HR representative to complete. Documentation helps you to improve the process going forward.
3. Increase Awareness
As we mentioned above, there’s been an improvement in the way society treats mental health in the last few years. One of the driving forces behind this improvement is the increased awareness of mental health, how it impacts individuals, and the types of support an employer can offer to people struggling with mental illness.
Business leaders must ensure their employees understand how crucial mental health is, and how they can take steps to maintain their mental wellbeing. With almost 15% of people experiencing mental health issues at work, it’s important workers know what to do when their mental health is suffering. Otherwise, their problems will only get worse.
Luckily, there are a huge number of avenues through which a business can spread awareness. Internal newsletters, posters in the workplace, or reminders during weekly meetings are all great ways to keep the importance of mental wellbeing at the front of your employees’ minds. You may even want to include information on mental health in your onboarding documents for new employees.
4. Manage Workloads Appropriately
Burnout is one of the biggest mental health dangers — put simply, it’s a state of total physical and mental exhaustion. To avoid it, business owners need to ensure their employees are not overworked, either by working long hours or because of the difficulty of the work they’re given.
46% of UK workers say they’re close to burnout, which shows how common the phenomenon is. Burnout arises primarily from poorly managed workloads, so it’s the responsibility of managers or business owners to ensure they’re not putting too much work on the plate of a single individual.
It may be the case that the work needs done, and there’s no one else to do it. In these instances, you may want to consider expanding your team, or adjusting the way you look at deadlines. Having work take slightly longer is a better result than burning out your employees and losing them for several days as they recover.
5. Time and Money
Discussing mental wellbeing, offering moral support, and adjusting workloads are all helpful strategies for improving employee mental health. However, the most effective strategies available to employers are to increase wages and increase holiday allowance. While other tactics merely help alleviate symptoms, these methods attack the root causes of poor mental health.
For instance, mental illness is significantly higher in times of financial stress — the cost of living crisis has meant a 44% increase in reported mental health problems in the last 12 months (2022-2023). Increasing wages can help eliminate money worries, and help employees focus entirely on their work.
Increasing holiday allowance has a similar impact. According to a 2022 survey by employer review website Glassdoor, 72% of workers find that holidays are the best way of avoiding burnout. Having more time off means the employee can create a better work/life balance, which is key to ensuring good mental health.
While expensive, ensuring your employees have liveable wages and enough time away from work is crucial. Without offering these benefits, you will see high rates of burnout among your existing employees, and will likely struggle to hire new workers in future.
Build a Happier Workforce with 365 finance
Some of our mental health tips for small business owners will require some level of initial investment. If you’re unable to source the required funds, you should check out the merchant cash advances available from 365 Business Finance.
Our merchant cash advances are a form of revenue-based finance, which means you don’t need to worry about making huge repayments at the end of every month. Instead, we’ll use a percentage of your monthly revenue to repay the loan. The better your business is doing, the faster your loan will be repaid.
At 365 finance, we can provide both long and short-term financial solutions, with revenue-based funding available from £10,000 to £400,000 in capital. Apply for funding today without affecting your credit score, or speak to our team to find out how we can help your business. To find out more, head to our website.