What you need to know:
- Aim for a work environment where employees’ welfare is given priority.
- Tasks should be clearly stated, and staff facilitated with the right tools and resources to do their best work.
- Watch out for any signs of stress and burnout, and provide information on how staff can easily identify these challenges in their daily work.
My company has been recruiting for a key role and last week, we met an impressive candidate. During the interview, he was honest and admitted that he was released from his last job for absconding work. He said he had struggled with mental health, and is now encouraged to speak about it since employers are more aware and are likely to be supportive. We resolved to hire him for the role, and would like to know how best to support him to settle well.
Start by not treating him differently. It is very easy to have some form of unconscious bias towards him, but what he needs right now is to be treated like any other employee, and facilitated to do his work. My answer will be focused on how to support employees who have any form of mental illness to thrive, especially in a society where stigma is applied very unconsciously. Ensure your policies are inclusive and create an environment where all staff can thrive. Strive to create policies that encourage fairness and respect, and educate employees on the need for self-care and looking out for others.
Aim for a work environment where employees’ welfare is given priority. Tasks should be clearly stated, and staff facilitated with the right tools and resources to do their best work. Watch out for any signs of stress and burnout, and provide information on how staff can easily identify these challenges in their daily work. Offer regular talks to all employees on how to have a healthy life-work integration, and encouraging them to work within official hours, and to take regular breaks. Rest and recuperation policies such as leave days and sick leave should be complied with. I have seen employees make poor decisions by foregoing their leave days, or worse, preferring cash for days not taken. Rest is important to our health and should always come first.
You may encourage staff to start voluntary safe space groups where they can gather and discuss ways to keep a healthy work-life balance. Sharing personal experiences, challenges and success has a way of establishing collective support in a way a written policy may not. Providing and safeguarding employees medical care is equally important. Your health insurance should cover as many illnesses as possible, with as few exemptions or none at all. Professional counselling services should be availed to all staff within confidentiality protocols. This may be extended to work-related coaching services when necessary. Allow your staff the flexibility to work partly from home or office, including at flexible work hours. Consider giving all staff a mental health day of rest, a good way to deal with unconscious bias and provide desired rest.