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Employers should put staff mental health high on the agenda say Brachers and Kent HR

By KentOnline reporter

Employers are being urged to put mental health high on their agenda this year.

This advice comes from leading law firm Brachers and its associated HR consultancy, Kent HR, which specialise in employment and HR matters.

It follows recent statistics published by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development study which said:

Employers are being urged to put the mental health of staff high on their agenda
Employers are being urged to put the mental health of staff high on their agenda

• 37% of mental health sufferers are more likely to get into conflict with colleagues

• 57% find it harder to juggle multiple tasks

• 80% find it difficult to concentrate

• 62% take longer to do tasks

• 50% are potentially less patient with customers/clients

The study indicates that mental illness is the largest single cause of disability in the UK.

Catherine Daw, head of employment at Brachers, will join a panel of experts at the Wellbeing Symposium later this month, an event which looks at keeping staff healthy at work.

"Unfortunately, the complexity, diversity and range of root causes can make management of mental health at work difficult..." - Catherine Daw, Brachers

She said: "Employees can feel their work contribute to, and impacts on, their mental health and statistics show that every year, three in 10 employees experience mental health problems.

"Unfortunately, the complexity, diversity and range of root causes can make management of mental health at work difficult.

"It is nevertheless important that employers do take steps to support their employees.

"The Centre for Mental Health estimates that 91 million days are lost each year due to mental health problems with the total cost to employers estimated at nearly £26 billion each year.

"That is equivalent to £1,035 for every employee in the UK workforce."

Veronica Fox, an HR consultant at Kent, HR said there are positive steps that employers can take.

She said: "Employers should try to spot the signs of mental illness.

"These might include increased unexplained absences or sick leave, poor performance or timekeeping, poor decision-making, lack of energy and uncommunicative or altered behaviour."

Brachers and Kent HR, who are co-sponsoring of The Wellbeing Symposium on Wednesday, February 22, recommend employers have an informal discussion with staff to try to find the root cause of any problems.

If the employee is returning from sickness absence, hold a ‘return to work discussion’.

There will be many factors affecting mental illness which an employer cannot control so Brachers and Kent HR recommend employers focus on what they can control.

This might include:

  • adjusting workloads or duties;
  • giving some flexibility in working arrangements (possibly for a short period);
  • taking steps to improve the quality of working relationships; and
  • increasing awareness of mental health issues amongst line managers and increasing employee involvement in decision-making.

Under the Equality Act 2010 employers might legally be required to make reasonable adjustments; for example, an employee might require specialist medical treatment following diagnosis and employers should make reasonable provision for the employee to attend appointments.

Maidstone law firm Brachers can assist with implementing improvements in the health and wellbeing of your workforce.

Find out more at their next seminar Future-Proof Your Business – Developing a Thriving Workplace in 2017 at the Hilton Hotel, Maidstone, on Thursday, March 23.

Click here to register or contact Catherine Daw on 01622 690691.

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