Employees are even more overloaded and anxious than every before. And small business workplaces are not providing adequate wellness programs to combat this. Mental health training in the workplace is increasingly critical.
We read about elaborate wellness programs including extensive health assessments, on-site fitness and daycare facilities, and supportive cafeteria programs. These are great programs, but may be way outside the capabilities of a small business. According to a report by the National Small Business Association and Humana, 93% of small businesses said that the health of their employees was important to their bottom lines, but just 22% offered a comprehensive wellness program.
Many small businesses are wondering how they can have an impact on employee health and productivity when there are fewer people to help organize these programs and smaller budgets to work with.
One of the easiest first steps to take is the organize mental health training in the workplace.
Employees Are Overwhelmed And It’s Impacting Productivity
Just like larger businesses, stress is impacting small business employees. The Sun Life Financial Canadian Health Index Report, found that three-quarters of respondents reported experiencing excessive or uncomfortable levels of stress and the youngest age groups.
Nearly half of all employees reported that the stress from a personal problem negatively impacted their work performance, according to “Stressed at Work: What We Can Learn From EAP Utilization,” a study from Bensinger, DuPont and Associates (BDA). The study found that stress most often lead to difficulty concentrating, absenteeism and poor work quality.
Untreated mental health issues can impact the small business organization in a number of ways:
• Disability premiums, rising health and benefits costs and expenses
• Productivity and an increase absenteeism, ‘presenteeism’ and turnover
• Safety concerns around accidents, incidents and injuries
• Lowered workplace morale and increased conflict and grievances
Employees Need Information And Support
A Ceridian survey found that although 90% of Canadian organizations believe mental health is an important part of a health and wellness strategy, only 22% of respondents believe the services they have in place are adequate. Next steps for employers of all sizes is to identify and implement appropriate preventative solutions to adequately support the mental health of their employees.
12% of current employees have a diagnoseable mental illness. Mental illness is the fastest-growing reason for short and long-term disability claims.
Management Education Is Key
For small businesses, awareness training of managers is very important in supporting the health and wellness of the employees within their company.
Partners For Mental Health found that 2/3rds of Canadians said that they would not have an open discussion with their boss about their mental illness.
The fear and stigma that still exists around mental health and mental illness prevents employees from seeking help from professionals or their workplace supporters. So, managers need to watch changes that may be occurring among their workers such as:
• disorganized thinking
• difficulty expressing themselves
• decreased attention and/or concentration
• lack of personal hygiene
• aggression toward themselves or others
• strained interpersonal relationships
• repeated short-term absences
• frequent tardiness, frequent breaks
• requests for days off for unusual reasons
• decreased interest in work
• inferior quality of work or decreased quantity of work compared to usual performance
• discussions about a new situation or multiple life changes in a short period of time
Any significant change in the person’s verbal and/or non-verbal behaviour, attitude or performance warrants attention, as does any change involving persistent, specific and uncharacteristic signs that last more than two weeks.
Addressing Stress Is A Priority
90% of Ceridian respondents cited “addressing stress” as their organization’s most significant mental health concern.
Yet, an Ipsos-Reid survey found that only 1 out of 3 managers have been trained to identify and help their employees deal with mental health issues like depression.
The Ceridian survey found that the top three priorities for mental health programs were employee mental health training on the issues, wellness programs to promote self-care and education to managers in understanding mental health issues. Small businesses need to be laser-focused on these three priorities, especially around training and education.
Psychological Health and Safety
For small business, additional information and support can be found in the National Standard for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace.
It calls upon employers to do the following:
• draft a Psychological Health and Safety policy
• develop and implement a system to implement that policy
• identify, assess and reduce the risk of Psychological Health and Safety hazards
• investigate Psychological Health and Safety incidents
• monitor, audit and improve the Psychological Health and Safety system
As a small business, it is easy to feel frustrated when trying to develop a comprehensive wellness plan, as both financial and human resources are limited. Understanding the impact that stress plays in your workplace and helping your team leaders understand how they can support their employees, are important first steps in developing a psychologically healthy workplace.
Make use of the free tools that are available, like the Psychological Health and Safety standard. Start conversations around how to support and reduce the stigma of mental health and mental illness. Communicate what supports and programs are available and add programs that are going to enhance the employee’s need for information and support.
If you have some strategies to share – comment on this posting!