Actionable tips for supporting employee mental health and wellbeing in the workplace
1. Support line managers to be career and wellbeing advocates.
Incorporate wellbeing into your performance management approach, with conversations centred around the entire employee. Ask employees questions about their overall wellbeing, don’t just focus on work performance. Also, try to get to the stage where employees feel empowered to ‘request’ feedback, instead of always ‘giving’ feedback via formal means.
We know from Legal & General’s recent research that the reason many employees don’t connect their benefits to their wellbeing is because they are overwhelmed by the general corporate ‘noise’. In other words, they’re communicated in a one-size-fits-all way that fails to connect.2
However, employees should be speaking almost daily, if not more, with their line manager.
The line manager is often overlooked but needs to be considered a primary communication channel. This is where employers can help in really practical ways with communication skills training.
2. Encourage leaders to model healthy behaviours.
Organisations can have the best benefits and wellbeing programme in the world, but if leaders don’t lead by example, it’s a waste of time and money.
These can be really simple things like leaders not sending or replying to emails outside of work hours; making it clear to people that they take lunch away from their desk, encouraging walking meetings and not stockpiling annual leave. It’s simply about getting the message across that people don’t need to be online and working all the time.
Leaders speaking openly about their own mental health issues can also help greatly in removing workplace stigma. We’ve seen examples of this over recent years where captains of industry have spoken out about their own problems; and received recognition for doing so. This has the knock-on effect of not only encouraging others to seek help and support when needed, but also positively impacting corporate reputation.
Of course, leaders shouldn’t feel they have to have a mental health issue to achieve the same results! Simply being open and ‘human’ in the way they communicate with people brings benefits; as was evidenced during the height of the pandemic last year when leaders took on the role of chief communicators, helping to create a new sense of belonging for many.
3. Don’t just put a sicking plaster over mental health issues.