Given current circumstances, this year’s World Mental Health Day on Saturday 10th October could not be timelier. The global pandemic has created a world of turbulence and uncertainty which has impacted everyone differently.
The virus and subsequent lockdowns have had a massive economic impact globally. This has put a lot of strain on businesses and has unfortunately meant that many have had to make redundancies. For everybody else, the air of uncertainty is no less worrying. The efforts to control the spread of the virus has led us to a somewhat disconnected society. Some have had to isolate for long periods with little to no face-to-face interaction which has seen an increase in loneliness. This is before you consider the social anxiety some have experienced since things have started to re-open.
All of this has seen a significant impact on the mental health of thousands and has sometimes made our world a difficult one to live in. This has meant an increase in demand and responsibility for businesses to look after their employees. With many businesses still operating remotely and resources being as stretched as they are, the challenge of looking after the mental health of employees has become an even more difficult one. However, protecting people from mental ill health should remain a key priority for any organisation and is simply the right thing to do.
PAS 3002, the code of practice that supports the physical and psychological health of your workforce, helps embed health and wellbeing in your business. Significantly, it brings mental health to the forefront of the wellbeing of your employees. The core benefits of implementing the code of practice into your organisation are based on its five key principles, each of which can easily be applied to the current environment we find ourselves working in.
1. Capitalise on diversity and inclusion as an organisational strength
PAS 3002 tackles diversity and inclusion and uses it as a key strength and driver of positive health and wellbeing in an organisation. It encourages businesses to support connection between employees, which has been proven to improve mental wellbeing, reduce stress and foster a sense of belonging. For those that have suffered from loneliness at any point throughout the pandemic, such connections have provided a massive, positive boost to mental health.
2. Proactive support of the physical and psychological health & wellbeing of workers
We’re all familiar with the saying that “prevention is better than the cure”. PAS 3002 requires businesses to provide proactive health and wellbeing support for their employees. This can be done by providing healthcare benefits as part of an employment package, comprehensive health surveillance and flexible working. Many workers across the county have been required to try and work from home while also caring for children during the earlier periods of lockdown so providing this support has been especially helpful in reducing stress.
3. Foster a work culture that offers strong, ethical relationships and a collaborative and communicative management style
One of the key factors behind the mental wellbeing among your employees is the culture that exists in your organisation. Having a culture and management style that proactively supports the health and wellbeing of workers can improve business performance.
PAS 3002 requires you to create a culture that provides strong relationships and a collaborative and communicative management style. During times of uncertainty, having these channels of communication between different levels of a business allows managers to be transparent and to set expectations, identifying areas or individuals that may need extra support. Also, the strong relationships that the code of practice encourages provides potential for peer support where employees are more inclined to help one another through difficult circumstances, ensuring that challenges aren’t faced alone.
4.Ensure jobs are designed so that they offer meaningful work
Job design can play a large part in ensuring motivation and enthusiasm among your workforce. This theory works on the premise that variety, identity, significance, autonomy and feedback are crucial factors influencing the behaviors of employees.
PAS 3002 ensures that businesses provide their people with correct job design and meaningful work. As many companies continue to operate in the safest possible way and work remotely, it is important that employees are trusted to work in a way that is most suitable to their circumstances. Also, even though there is little to no face-to-face interaction for many, regular communication and feedback should occur to give workers peace of mind that they’re doing the right things. Likewise, employers should look to receive feedback from their people to discover what could be improved. Implementing these changes then demonstrates to employees how valued they are as an asset to the business.
5. Support good people management policies and practices, including procurement design and risk management
PAS 3002 requires organisations to show serious consideration for employees’ health and wellbeing at every turn. This includes considering the impacts on mental health when looking to purchase any goods or services and factoring health and wellbeing in any risk management policies. It could also mean making procurement decision with an improvement in mental health as a key objective. An effective way of reinforcing this is for senior management to lead by example and communicate that the business is taking employee health and wellbeing seriously, leading to your people feeling valued and looked after.
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