As well as all its thrills and spills the Tokyo Olympics also put mental health back on the national agenda as athletes and competitors from around the world openly talked about all the huge pressures they face doing what is effectively their job in their work environment. Here, in the first of a new regular series of articles from Michael Page, one of the world’s biggest recruitment consultancies, Nicholas Kirk, identifies the top five measures employers can be taking to support their staff through this ever-changing time in the work place.
Nicholas Kirk, Michael Page’s regional managing director for UK, Ireland and North America, shares its latest research on how employers can help ease the anxiety of their staff and on-going disruption to their working patterns.
As companies across the UK grapple with decision-making around new working arrangements, I’m acutely aware that it’s never been more important for me to consider my choices as a leader with a significant duty of care. As recruitment experts, it’s our job to advise businesses on the ever-changing needs of the workforce.
We have a responsibility to every single one of our candidates to make sure that their mental wellbeing is protected throughout the hiring process and going into their new role.
But giving advice can be tricky whilst the road to normality is still relatively unclear and in a constant state of fluctuation. We’re seeing many of the UK’s biggest businesses suggest that flexible working will remain for the foreseeable future, which we know from extensive research has become important to many people’s mental health. But with all eyes on the roadmap to office return, what more can employers be doing to ease the anxiety that’s bound to come with it?
New Michael Page research takes the temperature of UK workers’ attitudes towards mental health in the workplace and identifies five key additional measures employers can be taking to help support their staff:
- 1 Rethink inflexible working: Unsurprisingly, almost four in 10 (37%) workers say that fully implementing and maintaining flexible working patterns is key in order to safeguard mental health at work, so if you’re thinking about which pandemic enforced practices to take forward by choice, make sure it’s flexibility.
- 2 Open up the conversation: Over a quarter (26%) say that they’d like their employer to encourage more conversation about mental health in the workplace, so think about how you can be opening up discussion and most importantly, listening to the answers.
- 3 Prioritise safety and comfortability: One in five (21%) say that keeping social distancing measures in the workplace is a priority for their mental health, so if you have employees coming back into the office, make sure you’ve got the correct methods in place to do so safely.
- 4 Understand that health isn’t just physical: Some people may feel nervous around taking allocated sick leave for a mental health reason as opposed to physical health problems or sickness. But with cases of ‘burn out’ and work-related exhaustion on the rise, perhaps companies could be more flexible around time off for mental health reasons – as almost a quarter (23%) say a ‘rest day’ would significantly benefit them.
- 5 Let people switch off: One in five (21%) believe a ‘right to disconnect’ policy (e.g. not having to check emails or take phone calls outside of work hours) would have a positive impact on their mental health, so set boundaries that allow employees to switch off properly.
There are so many more ways to support employees and their mental health. As a leader at Michael Page, I’m particularly proud of the strides we ourselves are making to provide extensive training, support networks, initiatives and resources to help our people and highlight the importance of understanding and supporting mental health in the workplace and beyond.
The pandemic has given us one of the biggest opportunities we’ve ever seen to change and adapt the way we work. Now is the time for employers to embrace mental health.
- Nick Kirk is responsible for Michael Page in the UK, Ireland and North America. His remit includes the core operational businesses – Michael Page, Page Personnel, Page Executive and Page Outsourcing – as well as non-operational functions.
- To find out more about how Michael Page works and how it might be able to help you with your employment practices and benefits and also your recruitment needs then click here.
- If you would like advice and support around mental health The Drinks Trust – the drinks industry’s charity – offers a full range of support and services as part of its Wellness Services. Click here to find out more about the specific mental health help and there is also a helpline at 0800 915 4610.