When I talk to new organisations, one of the key challenges they are facing is knowing where to start with bringing in mental health, wellbeing or employee wellness into their company. The thought of it can really be quite daunting. The pressure on organisations to do SOMETHING is growing continuously and there seems to be this self-formed expectation that you should know what to do. Mental health has many layers and complexity – it is okay not to know the answer.
So where do I start? Well, I’m glad you asked!
Companies who are approaching me have recognised the need to do something in their organisation and recognising the need is the first step. If you don’t have the personal investment and get behind it, it will fall flat in the organisation and your hard work will be wasted. With so much stigma still attached, launching into something without your buy in could cause a mockery of very serious challenges.
(Be aware that 58% of Senior Leaders think their organisation support its staff but 60% of staff say they don’t! Make sure you see the programme in practice!)
But recognising the need doesn’t mean you have to have the answers on what to do yet… read on!
So before embarking and investing your money in employee wellness, you need to ask yourself:
What is the culture you want to create for your organisation?
THIS is the key question that you need to answer.
Mental health / wellbeing isn’t something that you can tick off on a checklist after handing out some leaflets and leaving them accessible to staff. Yes, there is “standard” and widely acknowledged information but if you want your employees to feel okay talking about their health and wellbeing, you need to create an environment where THEY feel it is okay to do that – that means you have to think about how your managers engage with staff, the surrounding environment and how you want your employees to feel about working at the company. You can get external guidance / advice at this stage, but also bring in your employees, your managers, your senior leaders, your HR team. You’ll be surprised at how welcoming this will be to your employees – and how valued they will feel by being asked the question.
Once you have the look and the feel of the culture you want for your organisation, you now need to start thinking about how you create it.
Segment it into two categories:
- How do you as an organisation support those who may be experiencing or who are affected by poor mental health?
Here you need to think about HR processes, absence management, return to works/fit for work conversations, signposting, self management tools and techniques, management engagement, therapy options and backdrops of health services.
The second one to work through:
- How do we prevent poor mental health from establishing, and in this particular case, establishing through the work place.