This month, we’ve seen agencies across the country celebrate ‘Mental Health Awareness Week’ with their employees. From offering coffee mornings to running wellbeing workshops – it’s great to see mental health issues and employee wellbeing at the forefront but is this a consistent activity stream for these businesses? A new study has revealed that might not be the case! 

Shockingly, a poll of 2,000 workers here in the UK revealed that nearly half of employees did not receive any wellbeing check-ins from their employer last year. These statistics have led to calls for UK businesses to do more to listen to and support their staff. 

The poll, conducted by Mental Health First Aid England (MHFA) revealed that 48% of workers said their workplace had not checked in on their mental health in the past year, up from 25% in 2021. Only a third (27%) said they’d received a wellbeing check from their employer at least monthly, less than half the numbers who reported the same last year (60%).

As a line manager and senior manager here at Wild PR, this led me to reflect on whether we as a business are truly doing enough to support our staff and their wellbeing in the workplace. I lead our wellbeing activity which includes weekly content sharing, internal and external workshops and monthly wellbeing check-ins run by myself. 

With this in mind, I wanted to share some tips, insights and learnings I’ve found from my time leading wellbeing check-ins with the team, in the hope that these could help other leaders looking to improve their working environments. 


Running wellbeing check-ins

Sometimes, line managers are in the best place to pick up if an employee is having problems with their mental health at work. They are usually the person who has the clearest view of their work, behaviour and attitude. But you may also have a dedicated wellbeing officer/manager who is trained and passionate about employee wellbeing who may want to run the sessions with staff. 

Consider who within your organisation is best suited to run regular wellbeing sessions with the team and liaise with them so they are clear on the purpose of the sessions. Consider who has the capacity to be able to successfully run the catch-ups on a regular basis! 


Points to consider when running the sessions: 

– Clarify the catch-ups are confidential and no details will be shared further if they don’t want it to be.

– Reassure staff members they won’t be judged – the conversation is about finding out how the organisation can help them bring their best selves to work.

– Pick a time which suits you both, so you won’t be disturbed, rushed or distracted. And ask the staff member what format works best for them e.g. face to face or virtual. 

– Ask them about what support would be helpful if they had a problem – would they find it useful to talk to someone directly or prefer to read advice online?

– What is the attitude to their work/life balance? Are they happy to share personal details or do they like to keep the two separate?

– An employee is not legally required to mention any medical condition they may have. Don’t push employees to reveal anything they don’t feel comfortable sharing. Let them know how to access help on their own terms and in private.


Find out what mental health support is available at work

It’s also important that all line managers know exactly what support their employer offers to any employees who need help with their mental health. 


Questions to ask as a line manager/team leader: 

– Ask if your company has a written mental health policy. This will outline what protocol line managers should follow if an employee requires mental health support. 

– Find out if you have an employee assistance programme (EAP). These usually include some form of mental health support, which may be delivered over the phone or online and is completely confidential. Find out how employees can access it both at home and at work.

– Are there any other initiatives offered to help employees, such as Mental Health First Aiders, Health Insurance benefits or peer networks? Ensure you know how team members can access these. 


Key takeaways

As employers, it’s essential to remember everyone is different and mental health is very personal. Listening is key. Giving employees’ a safe place to talk is a good place to start solving any problems but be sure to monitor the success of these meetings. Ask for regular feedback from the team on anything more which can be done to support their workplace wellbeing. 

Resist the urge to diagnose your employees’ problems and make sure you leave that to professionals. Mental health fluctuates, so don’t jump in as soon as you spot a possible problem, let your staff know there is support if they need it first and don’t push them to divulge information they’re not comfortable sharing..

And most importantly, keep talking! It’s easy to let things slide but regular conversations are vital to improving workplace wellbeing.

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