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5 management tips for promoting a mentally healthy workplace

Employers and managers play a crucial role in promoting a mentally healthy workplace. Employers also have a formal responsibility to address mental health issues in the workplace under various employment based legislation. Do you have the proper skills and resources to nurture the culture of your organisation?

1 in 5 Australians are affected by mental illness, and workplace stress is now widely recognised as a major workplace health and safety risk factor. Under various employment-based legislation, employers have a positive duty to manage the risk of psychosocial hazards and ensure that the working environment does not cause psychological or physical injury or worsen an existing condition. Psychosocial hazards are anything in the design or management of work that can affect an employee's mental health.

Employers and managers play a crucial role in promoting a mentally healthy workplace and shedding some light on mental health issues that may be affecting colleagues at work. Your teams will naturally look to you for leadership and support, so it is important to know what support resources are available and how to discuss mental health with your staff.

Here are 5 management tips promoting a mentally healthy workplace:

1. Conduct a Respect@Work + Psychological Safety Risk Assessment – Take a WHS risk management approach to ensuring your workplace is equipped to manage the risk of psychosocial hazards in the workplace, including but not limited to bullying, discrimination, workplace sexual harassment and victimisation.

2. Educate and have tools ready – Review your organisation's mentally healthy workplace policy, learn about the signs and symptoms of work related stress and mental illness, provide training to your managers, and remind staff about the available support resources, such as an employee assistance program or contact officer.

3. Ask if everything is OK and listen – Look out for warning signs that something is off, such as mood, lateness, or a drop in performance; then act promptly and kindly to see if that person needs any support.

4. Arrange a workplace adjustment – For a staff member who is struggling, you can work together to negotiate a temporary adjustment of their role or workload, to help them get through their rough patch.

Reasonable adjustments are changes to a job role or workplace that help someone with a mental health condition to keep working, or return to the workplace if they've taken time off.

5. Lead by example and keep the conversation alive – Encourage respectful behaviour by speaking out against gossip; demonstrate healthy work habits, such as taking regular breaks and “switching off” of work emails after hour. Reduce stigma and create a culture of support by discussing workplace wellbeing regularly, in meetings, newsletters and policy reviews.

A positive, healthy workplace culture promotes mental wellbeing and brings out the best in people’s morale and productivity. Research also shows that a mentally healthy workplace can, on average, result in a positive return on investment.

Do you have the proper skills and resources to foster the culture of your organisation?

WorkPlacePLUS provides integrated human resource services, including tools for workplace wellness to help you foster a mentally healthy workplace.

For more information, please contact us today.


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