Beyond Blue Monday: the wellbeing support your staff actually need

  • Occupational health
Gavin Scarr-Hall - Director of Health & Safety at Peninsula

Gavin Scarr Hall, Director of Health and Safety

(Last updated )

According to HSE, businesses lost more working days in 2021/22 to stress, depression and anxiety disorders than any other type of work-related ill health.

With many still mourning the festive period, Blue Monday – also called ‘the saddest day of the year’ – is just around the corner. It’s January and people are reeling from financial stress, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and a serious lack of motivation.

The January blues might have hit, but mental health issues affect staff all year round. So, to kick off the new year as an employee wellbeing champion, here’s how you can really support your workforce…

1. Have a wellbeing policy

You can show you take employee wellbeing seriously by having an official wellbeing policy. A policy recognises that employees may experience mental health struggles and outlines ways you can support them.

This might include:

  • arranging private meetings with your employee to discuss sensitive issues
  • creating an action plan to help your employee find ways to manage their mental health 
  • providing an occupational health referral with your employee’s permission
  • signposting your employee to external organisations that can offer support
  • directing your employee to your employee assistance programme (EAP) If you have one

Your wellbeing policy is a trusty legal roadmap. It helps your staff ways to feel happier and healthier at work, and it makes sure you follow a safe procedure if tough mental health issues arise.

2. Promote financial wellness

After the hustle and bustle of festive spending, January is a bad financial month for most people. And with the added burden of a cost of living crisis, your staff need support now more than ever.

That’s why it’s a good idea to set up a financial wellbeing policy. In this policy, you could include:

  • helpful resources for staff on how to better manage their finances 
  • advice on budgeting
  • information about any financial support you offer

When staff have a policy they can refer to and know you offer support, it may help to relieve their anxiety. And if they feel less anxious and more in control financially, they’re likely to be more focused and productive.

3. Monitor workloads and check in regularly

Sometimes, support is as simple as checking in. This means taking your workers aside regularly for one-to-one chats. It doesn’t have to be a formal process. It just gives you an opportunity to find out how your worker is getting on and whether they have any issues or concerns.

In these one-to-ones, you can ask staff what they think about the work, what they enjoy and don’t enjoy and whether it’s too much or not enough. If staff feel they have too much work, they might be worried to say anything. So, this gives them an opportunity to speak privately with you instead of getting stressed and working overtime to get things finished.

And in the end, this could end up preventing burnout, dissatisfaction and resignations down the line. So, it’s important to keep checking in and monitoring workloads. That way, you know when you need to start distributing tasks if one person feels overwhelmed.

4. Have an employee assistance programme (EAP)

A survey by Mind found that one in five people felt they couldn’t tell their boss if they were feeling stressed at work. They also found that less than 50% of people with mental health problems had told their manager.

Whilst staff may want to keep issues to themselves, this isn’t helpful to them or to you. If your workers are struggling to cope and don’t feel they’re getting any support, they’re more likely to underperform, detach and make mistakes. That’s why open communication is vital.

One of the best ways to encourage conversations about mental health is by having an employee assistance programme (EAP). Having an EAP service means your staff can access free counselling and advice from third-party experts whenever they need. Plus, you have the added benefits of it being:

  • External and confidential

Sometimes staff don’t want to reach out to their manager or employer about personal issues. They may feel more comfortable speaking to a confidential expert, which they can access without anyone having to know about it.

  • Specialist

EAP experts can help with specific problems like alcoholism, drug addiction, debt, bereavement, etc. So, if your employee is struggling with an issue in a specialist area, they can get help from a trained professional who knows how to support them.

Outsourcing wellbeing support through an employee assistance programme (EAP) helps you support staff, reduce absences and provide expert support without having to do anything. It’s less risky, more effective and lets your staff know help is always on hand, free of charge.

To find out more, click here or speak to an EAP on 0800 051 3685.

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