Mental health in the workplace : how to support your employees

By Lauren Wiseman | 28 November 2023

New research from the CIPD shows stress as one of the leading causes of workplace absence – with 76% of respondents reporting that they’d taken time off due to stress in the last year. And it’s particularly important to talk about mental health in the vet sector. A Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) survey in 2018 found that 48% of respondents reported burnout, and 2015 Vet Futures study reported that a third of vets had significant concerns about their mental health and wellbeing.

Mental health support at work can keep job satisfaction up, drive productivity and prevent burnout – and you’re also legally required under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 to ensure your employees’ health, safety and wellbeing, which includes stress and mental health. Not sure where to start? The experts at Citation are here to tell you why focusing on mental health and wellbeing is important and how you can support your employees.

Why it’s important to support mental health in the workplace

Recruitment and retention

Supporting workplace wellbeing can lead to higher rates of recruitment and retention. Mental health support is becoming a bigger focus for candidates, and more and more people are looking for support measures like counselling services, employee assistance programmes and mental health champions.

And the same applies to retaining staff. If your workplace doesn’t offer enough mental health support, employees might consider moving to a business that does. It can have a big impact on someone’s perception of the workplace culture, and their own work-life balance.

Improved performance

Supporting your staff’s mental health means you might see your performance improve. It could help reduce stress and boost motivation and productivity.

Reduced presenteeism

Presenteeism occurs when employees come to work but aren’t as productive as usual, potentially due to factors like illness or stress – and the annual cost of presenteeism to employers is somewhere between £27 billion and £29 billion, according to research by Deloitte. If an employee is struggling with something like depression, stress, anxiety or other mental health issues, their performance will be impacted.

Mental health support shouldn’t be a reactive measure – you should make sure you’re being proactive and putting in measures to prevent work-related issues arising in the first place.

Mental health best-practices for employers

Risk assessments

You’re legally required to carry out stress risk assessments, but it can be tricky to identify all the hazards and the controls. By carrying out stress risk assessments properly, you can reduce work-related stress and address factors in the workplace that may be contributing to it.

Want to learn more about stress risk assessments? Download our free guide where we detail exactly why you need them, how to carry them out and how we can support you.

Meet with employees you’re concerned about

It’s a good idea to meet with employees if you’re concerned about their mental health. If they feel comfortable discussing the issue they’re facing, you can help by putting an appropriate plan in place, like a Wellness Action Plan (more on this below). But remember not to pressure your employees into sharing reasons why they’re feeling the way they do, and assure them that you will support them.

It’s vital to build a culture where people feel they can share with their employers, and know they can get support with the issues they’re dealing with.

Wellness Action Plans

These can be really useful for supporting mental health at work. They’re designed to identify what causes someone’s mental health to decline and how it impacts their performance at work. These can be used to decide how you can support them in these areas.

Employee Assistance Programmes

You could also consider an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) – a 24/7 support service for anyone who needs to talk to an external person or specialist about their mental health or wellbeing.

How Citation can help you support your people

Mental health is a huge and sometimes sensitive topic, and it’s not usually an easy fix. Luckily Citation are here to help you understand your responsibilities as an employer, what you can do to improve employee wellbeing and how to influence company culture to make your workplace a safe space. As a Premier Buying Group partner, we’re a trusted provider in the industry – so you can have faith that we know how to help you manage the challenges unique to your workplace.

If you’d like to chat about how Citation can help with your HR and Health & Safety, just give us a call on 0345 844 1111 or fill in our call-back form, and we’ll get right back to you. Remember to let us know you’re a Premier Buying Group member when enquiring to access preferential rates.

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