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One in four people in the UK have a mental health problem every year – the importance of workplace mental health cannot be ignored.

The aim

“Mental fitness” is as important to tertiary workers as physical fitness is to manual work. And it is still important for secondary and primary workers.

If you want:

  • Reliable attendance
  • Maximum productivity
  • An effective motivated team
  • Good employee retention

Then you need employees with good Mental Health – mentally fit. Employees with a good work-life balance work 21% harder than those without.

Mentally fit employees are:

  • Emotionally resilient
  • Creative
  • Interactive positively with others
  • Can think on their feet
  • Learn from experience

Those with, often temporary, poor mental health may have:

  • Negative attitudes
  • Poor responses to work demands
  • Unforced mistakes
  • Been previously high performing, then suddenly not performing
  • Poorly explained absences
  • Tantrums – yes, they happen

Actions you can take:

  • Recognise the value of flexible working
  • Encourage healthy lifestyles by corporate activities or individual example
  • Discourage the “always on” culture – have a rule where emails will not be accessed after a certain time in the evening, or even the afternoon
  • Tackle conflict, bullying or harassment before it takes over
  • Develop an effective induction programme
  • Encourage breaks at work and from work
  • Seek to avoid role ambiguity (a major cause of stress) – job descriptions can help
  • Have clear reporting relationships to avoid ambiguity
  • Be cautious over disciplinary action
  • Have accessible employee policies, ideally an Employee Handbook on the internet

Read our mental health at work blog for more guidelines for employers.

Malcolm Martin FCIPD

Author Human Resource Practice