We would hope that as an employer you are keen to help your employees in any way you can. Remember, morale is vital to productivity and that equals extra profits for the business at the end of the day.
You shouldn’t look at this from a profitable point of view however, because seeing someone struggling with a mental health issue isn’t a pleasant thing. From a human point of view, we all want to help, we want to make someone smile and take away their suffering a little. As an employer you can do exactly that, putting you in a strong and powerful position in terms of the health and wellbeing of your employees, physically, emotionally, and mentally.
As an employer, your main responsibilities are to improve the working conditions your employees use every single day, adjusting things as necessary, and helping those who require it. If someone has a problem, you should adopt an open door policy, allowing employees to approach you with ease, and not feeling worried about speaking up about stress or other problems they might be having. A comfortable working environment is the bare minimum you need to provide, e.g. the best office furniture to ensure they are supported physically and from there you can work on the other factors to support mental and emotional health.
The easier you make it for people to speak to you, the more good you will be able to do.
In addition, there is something called the Stevenson Farmer “Thriving at Work” Review.
This is something you should be aware of as an employer and adopt in your office space.
To sum it up, the Government asked for a review to be performed in 2017, related to how employers can support their employees with mental health problems in the workplace environment. From this, the “Thriving at Work” Review was created, laying down a set of actions which employers are recommended to meet. These are called ‘core standards’, including:
Taking any necessary action on workplace stress, to create a better working environment for employees, e.g. looking at the contemporary office design and how it can be changed to support all employees within the workspace
Increase opportunities to talk about problems, with the open door policy just mentioned
Raising awareness of the unfair stigma of mental health problems and working to reduce it
Have a set system for monitoring problems raised by employees and ensuring a positive outcome
Within those core standards there are many things which can be done.
The open door policy is the single best route towards ensuring that you are given the information you need firsthand. From there, you can work to reduce any problem an employee might be having. For instance, make it easy for your employees to come to you if they’re struggling with any problems. Make it clear that your door is always open and that you will never judge them unfairly. Be supportive and positive, and as a result, you will find that your employees will come to you more easily.
On the other hand, if you are always very clear that you’re too busy to speak, telling people they must book in time with your secretary, and when they do get to see you they only have five minutes, how can you expect them to willingly come to you with a sensitive problem? You can’t!
Allowing staff to know that you’re there if they need you is one of the biggest support systems going, and that is the basic minimum you must do as an employer.
How about providing a comfortable space to go if they need five minutes by themselves? Sometimes this can be enough to calm the storm raging inside. In that case, look at setting up a time out zone, perhaps with comfortable sofas or high stools, and a bright decor for mood-boosting properties?
You could also provide a confidential counselling service for staff to access if they feel the need to talk to someone externally, i.e. if they’re struggling with depression and they need a little help but don’t know who to turn to. Having mental health awareness training as part of your company’s regular training programme is a must do if you want to break down the stigma and ensure that staff take proactive steps when they feel they’re struggling themselves.
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