5 Key Steps To Managing Your Team’s Workplace Mental Health

Having been a Lifeline Crisis Supporter for a number of years I have had numerous conversations with people struggling with their work/life balance and how that has impacted their mental health. 

Over the last 18 months there has been a rise in calls to services like Lifeline and the pandemic has made people reassess the level of importance they place on managing their personal wellbeing. This also needs to be a focus for employers and managers if you want to get the best version of your team working with you in your organisation.

In my opinion, there are 5 key steps to managing the mental health of your team as we move to a post pandemic world.

Step 1 - Better Understand Mental Health

Four little words that sound simple but are probably the biggest undertaking of this whole process. There are of course different levels of understanding in this space. While a deeper understanding gives you more ability to recognise signs that team members may be struggling, provided you have a reasonable awareness of the issues that people face you can work your way to better mental health within your organisation. 

There are a number of websites and resources available to help with this, I would recommend you take 30 minutes and complete the workplace mental health awareness course by Heads Up (a program from Beyond Blue). It provides an explanation of common myths and misconceptions and gives a great overview. It’s free and you can access it here - http://learn.beyondblue-elearning.org.au/BeyondBlue/

Step 2 - Understand Your Own Stressors

While understanding what is happening for your team is crucial, it is equally important to check your own wellbeing. Not only do you need to make sure you are managing your workload and private life for your own good, you will find it hard to effectively manage your team if you are not coping yourself.

If you can understand the circumstances that impact you it makes it easier to manage your workload and help your team cope with any issues they may be facing.

The folks at the Black Dog Institute have a brilliant article on managing your own mental wellbeing with a weekly check in. You can access it here https://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/news/your-weekly-personal-mental-health-check-in-during-coronavirus/

Step 3 -  Constantly Check In

It is vital to ensure you check with your team on a regular basis. You can look for signs of fatigue, stress and poor work performance as indicators that people may be struggling. It is also important to check in with people who seem to be managing well as they may be masking anxieties or issues.

If you are concerned about the health of a team member, ask yourself: “Has their behaviour changed recently?” 

It’s not your role to diagnose a mental health problem, but it is your role to assist a person to get help if they need it.

Be aware, your first conversation may not be fruitful but it is crucial to start the conversation. Even if you cannot resolve issues immediately it will at least let your team members know that you care and that you are open to discussing issues they may be experiencing.

Step 4 - Consider Impacts of Company Policies & Decisions

When planning and implementing process changes, recruitment decisions, policy changes and other important company directions or changes it is critical to understand how this may impact the wellbeing of your team. 

Things like staffing restructures and location changes can impact the anxiety levels of team members in ways that may not be immediately obvious. A recent example of this is now that a large number of organisations are returning from ‘work at home’ to workplace based employment this level of change can be challenging for some people. 

This does not mean that you cannot make big changes, just be mindful of the effect it may have and communicate changes with clarity, time to acclimatise and opportunity for discussion.

Step 5 - Be Prepared To Be Flexible

The way we have always done business may not be how we do business today and in the future. 

You may be able to get more productivity from your team by helping them manage their work/life balance better. 

Flexible working hours or locations can help your team and your business remain positive. 

Look at new technologies that can make your business and team members more efficient and effective. 

Most importantly, don’t rule something out until you have fully explored it with an open mind.

These steps aren’t the complete solution but they provide a useful guide to help you navigate maintaining the wellbeing of your team, yourself and your organisation.

If you would like to discuss this more or understand how we are helping our team here at TLRG, please feel free to reach out.