Posted on Monday 19 November 2018 by Ulster Business

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Keeping your team happy and healthy is essential if you want your business to excel. An aspect that is often overlooked is mental health, and it can have a bigger impact in the workplace than you realise, writes John Moore, managing director, Hays Northern Ireland

Action Mental Health, a Northern Ireland based charity, reported that almost 50% of long term absences from work are due to mental illness; so there are both moral and monetary reasons for investing in your workforce’s mental health.

As a foundation, it is important for employers to create an environment where staff feel able to talk openly about stress and mental health at work. Mental health charity Mind reported that men are twice as likely to have mental health problems due to their job, compared to problems outside of work.

However, many men find themselves unable to speak to their boss about the impact that work is having on their wellbeing and often don’t ask to take time off sick when they need it. Regular one-to-one meetings could give your team the chance to talk about problems that they’re having without having to take the first step of reaching out, and gives you the opportunity to offer solutions.

Exercise is an efficient and cost effective way to help improve the mental health in your workplace. When staff eat their lunch at their desk it means that they don’t take a break from their stress – implementing a weekly walk could be a brilliant way to get your team together for a chat and reason to get out of the office.

To cultivate an accepting and safe office culture for people to be open about their mental health, it is important to break the stigmas that surround it. For example, if a colleague takes time off sick as a result of mental health problems then behave just as you would if it was a physical illness.
 
Strong mental health policies are proven to help reduce absenteeism, improve staff retention and actually help with recruitment, so taking time to reflect on the way you handle mental health will definitely pay off.

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