Bringing Mental Wellbeing to the Fore

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We can’t remember a time when we have ever seen so many fit notes or questions from our clients about mental health. With this and the increasing recognition of neurodivergence in adults in mind, it’s essential for you to be aware of what to look out for and how to help your staff.

ACAS has recently issued guidance on reasonable adjustments to assist those with mental health conditions in the workplace. Click here for a read.

This guidance indicates the growing importance and the need for employers to recognise mental health conditions and neurodivergence as they do physical conditions (both of which can qualify as disabilities under employment law). However, you shouldn’t just want to make these changes because you’re in fear of an employment tribunal claim, you should do so to support your staff and ensure that the working environment brings out the best in them.

Making small changes  will assist with;

  • Recruitment;
  • Retention;
  • Training costs;
  • Increasing performance;
  • Reducing sickness absence levels; and
  • Having a happier, healthier workforce.

So, how can you do that? This post isn’t big enough for all of the recommendations that we have, but here’s a few to help you.

  • Train staff on mental health conditions, if you have a first aider, why not send them on mental health first aid training?
  • Update your equal opportunities training and policies to include references to neurodivergence. This can help neurodivergent employees feel more comfortable approaching you about how their condition affects them at work.
  • Look at your policies and processes to make sure that they’re addressing and providing solutions to mental health issues and conditions. If you don’t have a wellbeing at work policy, we can produce one for you.
  • Understand that some employees will be resistant to change. What might seem like a small issue to you, could be a massive barrier to someone else.
  • Implement one-to-one mentoring or a workplace buddy.
  • Make sure that your grievance and disciplinary procedures don’t overlook conditions and whether or how any condition has contributed to what’s being raised.
  • Look for patterns of absence or behaviour that might let you know that someone is struggling.
  • Understand that not all conditions are the same. A solution for one employee won’t necessarily be a solution for another. For example, working from home might work for some, or be a trigger for others.
  • Accept that social events and networking events aren’t for all.

The key to all of this is empathy and communication. Not talking about these issues is never the answer. If you want support on how you can improve wellbeing in your workplace, understand mental health conditions or neurodivergence and support your staff, please get in touch with our Employment team.

(May 2023)