In England, 1 in 6 people on average report experiencing a common mental health problem (such as anxiety and depression) in any given week. In recent years, acknowledgement and support for mental health concerns has risen across the UK. However, in the workplace, open discussion on mental health is far from common practice. Furthermore, the link between mental health and performance management software is yet to be understood.
A recent study by the CIPD highlights the impact on businesses of poor mental health in employees. The study found the following:
The study also found that stress is now a major cause of long-term absence in manual and non-manual workers. Findings like these are hard to ignore and raise additional workplace concerns:
One of the biggest challenges faced is recognition. Those suffering from mental health issues may be in denial themselves, hoping that the problem will somehow disappear. Staff may fear raising the issue in fear of the potential negative repercussions – hindering work projects, promotional opportunities or dismissal.
On the other hand. managers may not recognise an employee struggling to cope due to their own workload. Alternatively, the manager may recognise an issue but feel powerless to approach it. This is where using a system such as performance management software can really help.
By conducting regular one to one’s with employees using a system like Actus Performance Management Software, managers can recognise and address mental health issues:
Using a performance management system like Actus you could set up a section under one-to-ones for wellbeing. A culture of trust is needed for this to work. Promoting a visible awareness and understanding of mental health issues is likely to help. It will allow the lines of communication to be opened up and staff to feel safe in the knowledge they will not be judged or threatened. Using a system like Actus allows you to use The Bradford Factor to monitor this too.
If you create an open and honest culture within your organisation, there is a greater chance of employees raising issues earlier on. Regularly conducting anonymous employee surveys is a great way of gaging general wellbeing amongst staff. A good performance management system can manage these regularly. Company culture can also be used to support those with mental health issues via company values. For example, by using Actus Software values can be set up that recognise staff encouragement and support towards those suffering mental health problems.
According to The King’s Fund, a strong link exists between physical and mental wellbeing, with both positive and negative implications to our health. Introducing initiatives into the workplace that can encourage a healthy lifestyle and make employees feel better is a great start. Such initiatives do not need to be costly and involve offering free gym memberships. It could involve setting up a weekly lunchtime yoga class, a walking club or organising a charity fun run.
As well as physical exercise you could encourage mental wellbeing through mindfulness initiatives such as painting workshops or meditation sessions. Some of these initiatives could also be used to create fun and mildly competitive objectives that can be set in your performance management software and motivate employees to achieve them.
Above we have highlighted some of the ways an organisation can address mental health through the effective use of a performance management system. Just as the topic of mental health is complex, so too is the issue of how we address it; with each instance being unique and other factors needing to be considered, such as providing managers with training on how to deal with sensitive subjects. What is important is that we shake up the culture of silence that still pervades around the topic of mental health and put a strategy in place to tackle it as best we can to avoid the damaging effects turning a blind eye can have.