I recently read an article about the rise of ‘presenteeism’ in the workplace. The article claims that employees are increasingly turning up to work when they’re really not up to it – either physically or mentally.
Many of us have colleagues who insist on coming into work with streaming colds – perhaps you are that workaholic. At least with physical health problems the symptoms are more noticeable and, as a manager, you can persuade the employee to take time off to get better.
More worrying are those who put aside mental health problems to come in to work. It’s easy for these problems to go unnoticed, particularly as the perceived stigma of mental illness means that individuals work hard to mask their problems. Working with disguised mental health issues will inevitably lead to under-performance, putting more strain on the conscientious employee.
What can employers do?
To encourage employees to open up about mental health issues, the company’s duty of care to its employees must be publicised clearly and positively. Many workplaces will have a mental health and wellbeing policy or similar but, for me, it needs to go further and it starts with the MD. In order to spot the signs of a mental health issue but also to demonstrate my company’s commitment to workplace wellbeing, I decided to train as a Mental Health First Aider.
The course was enlightening, providing me with skills to spot and open up a conversation about a mental health problem, and how to guide someone towards help. It has made me an advocate for mental health training. As well as encouraging others to attend the course, I arranged for internal staff training to help employees monitor their own mental health and be alert to colleagues who may be struggling. This training reinforced the message that, as a firm, we take mental health wellbeing seriously and we’re ready to help if employees reach out.
To find out more about the rise of ‘presenteeism’ click here.
To find out more about becoming a mental health first aider click here.
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