I was recently asked this question, and between you and me, I had to think how I would know if my workplace was mentally healthy. I assume that it is, in fact I am sure that it is, but how would I demonstrate this to someone else? The question also arises ‘am I too connected to the organisation to be the one to make this assessment’? If I was to say my workplace was not mentally healthy, what would that say about my management and leadership skills, so perhaps as the Managing Director I was not the one to ask.
So, if it’s not the leader that you ask, then who? It will come as no surprise that the people who can tell you if you are working in a mentally healthy workplace are the employees. I can hear some of you saying “but if we ask the employees what they think, they will take it as an opportunity to be critical as no workplace is perfect”. This is, of course, a risk. However, this risk can be minimised by the way in which you ask your employees, and more importantly what you ask them about.
Determining if you have a mentally healthy workplace is not the same as asking employees if they are happy, or if there is something else that they want from you. Such questions are fraught with risk. I have never met, nor ever been, an employee who could not identify something in a workplace that might be able to be done differently. Therefore, these are not the questions that you ask.
Extensive research has been conducted to identify those aspects of work and workplaces that are associated with mentally unhealthy workplaces. It is these that you ask your employees about. It is these that will tell you if you have a mentally healthy workplace. More importantly, these aspects will indicate where your future risks may arise.
This information, combined with your workplace metrics such as absenteeism rates, turnover rates, and exit interview data will give you objective information on which to answer the question “Do I have a mentally healthy workplace”?
If you don’t have a mentally healthy workplace, or even if you identify some significant risk areas, you will certainly not be alone. A workplace mental health assessment will give you the data you need to know to start to address concerns. If you can identify the real issues at your workplace, you won’t be tempted to put time, effort and money into the latest feel good fads. You will be able to take those resources and direct them to interventions that will make a genuine and measurable difference in your business. For example, a lack of clarity in job role or reporting lines is a significant contributor to employee distress. No amount of gym memberships or fruit boxes is going to address this issue. However, providing clarity in such issues is not difficult, it just takes a bit of time, appropriate resource allocation and documentation. It may not be glamorous, but unless you get the fundamentals right, your workplace will remain a mentally unhealthy workplace no matter how many fads or feel good initiatives you introduce.
At Providence HR we understand the research and know how to collect information from employees that address these relevant issues. We are able to provide you with a real assessment of the mental health of your workplace. We then use this data to develop evidence based and economically robust interventions to address any identified issues of concern or risk. The risk of not knowing if your workplace is mentally healthy are growing exponentially as the expectations and obligations on employers increase.
If you would like some assistance in assessing your organisation’s mental health, please contact us on Cherylfirstname.lastname@example.org or 3218 3014.
Please note that this publication is intended to provide a general summary and should not be relied upon as a substitute for personal advice.