By Rachel Hatley

What can I do to provide mental health support for my staff as a business owner?

The mental health charity ‘Mind’ estimate 1 in 6 of all UK workers are dealing with a mental health problem, such as anxiety, depression or stress.

We all deal with mental health, for many of us it moves up and down a spectrum, and is affected by a range of factors both in and outside of working environments. Providing supportive means to your staff who could be dealing with mental health issues is not just about retaining valuable staff members, but also sends a message about your organisation’s values. Trust and integrity are key drivers of engagement, so it is critical for you to have a mental health strategy in place with specific policies to ensure your staff get the support they need.

There are 4 key steps to ensuring your staff feel supported at work, if you need some more support please contact us at KERV Capital.

This blog is by no means a ‘quick cheat sheet’ to a serious issue, it is instead to provide an outline to keep in mind whilst you start up your own recruitment business!

1. Culture

From the get-go, it is critical for your business to embody a culture where your staff feel they can reach out for support at any time. You need to send a clear signal that their well-being is a priority. To promote this, proactive steps need to be taken from the start, a culture change cannot happen overnight.  

The relationship between the manager and staff is key - the sooner they ask for help, the sooner they can receive much-needed support. As a manager, you can be approachable and confident, whilst taking steps to normalise conversations between staff. Make an effort to routinely sit down with your staff, for not only one-to-one chats, but informal catchups where you can build a rapport between the two of you, a simple ‘how are you?’ can go a long way.

One clear way of demonstrating your commitment to mental health is creating a system of mental health days, where staff are given a number of ‘sick’ days to take if they are particularly struggling and they don’t want to come into work. These are no questions asked days and are to be treated like they would a regular physical sickness day!

2. Tell-tale signs

By making an effort to get to know your team, you will be one of the first to notice changes in their behaviour. Running a business, you can spend 40+ hours at work every week, meaning we sometimes know our co-workers better than anyone else!

However, it is important to remember that every person is different, and not every individual will show outward signs of struggling with their mental health. Thus, the importance of creating a solid culture from the start, means staff will be able to talk about these issues with peace of mind.

There are 5 key behaviours that could indicate someone is experiencing mental health problems.

  1. Changes in their behaviour, mood, or interactions with other colleagues
  2. Changes in their work output, motivation, or levels of focus
  3. Struggling to make decisions, get organised or find solutions to problems they would usually be able to fix
  4. They are tired, anxious, withdrawn, or losing interest in things they would previously be interested in
  5. Changes in their eating habits, appetite, or an increase in smoking/drinking

3. How to have a conversation

Sometimes the thought of having a chat about mental health can be more daunting than the actual practicality.

In reality, there are no special skills needed, just those usually associated with leadership – common sense, empathy, being approachable, and having an open ear for listening. It’s important to approach the chat with confidence, making things overly formal or escalating the issue to HR, can just promote a tense, unfriendly atmosphere, lacking honesty and openness.

Remember to also ensure confidentiality and be honest with clarity, don’t make any assumptions, instead encourage the employee to talk freely, and don’t forget about your own well-being. Always seek advice and support for yourself, if you feel you need it or want reassurance following your handling of the situation.

4. How to support someone

Following your conversation with your employee, it’s important to stay positive and discuss what they can do rather than what they cannot! Work together to find solutions that would suit you both, whilst providing the best support for them. Identify the support they need and how to manage any further triggers.

However, problem can arise if you take this process too far, micro-managing the individual, or expecting additional work for them that you wouldn’t ask other staff members to do. This is not only counterproductive, but could also be perceived as discriminatory. So, find the right balance and trust in your staff to find the solutions themselves (with your help), without your constant supervision.

Being the owner of the business, you can implement positive changes for your team’s office environment. For example; enabling flexible working hours, creating quiet locations within the office, providing spaces with natural light, and implementing a phased return to work after any time off – all of which can decrease the possibility of aggravating mental health issues amongst staff members & aid those who have struggled recently/are currently struggling.  

Of course, there are plenty of other steps you can take to ensure your staff are getting the best support they need, and it is always best to consult with mental health professionals if the situation you face is beyond your means.

At KERV Capital we have a strong management team who combined, not only have years of experience in recruitment, but also have decades of experience as managers and directors. They will do all they can to ensure your staff are being given all the support they need to manage their mental health.


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