When an employee is struggling with a mental health issue, his or her work output is often affected. Unlike a broken bone or flu, it’s often hard to recognize when somebody is dealing with a mental health issue. Now, more than ever, employers should make extra efforts to do all they can to support the well-being of their employees. Whether that’s a simple phone call or a one-to-one chat, taking a few moments to support your employees can make an enormous difference in the long run.
Canadian personal injury law firm, Diamond and Diamond Lawyers, is a leader when it comes to supporting the health and well-being of their team of 35 + lawyers, dozens of support staff, and hundreds of clients. Managing partner, Jeremy Diamond, recently shared some of the philosophies and tactics his firm uses to support employees’ mental health:
Encouraging employees to take care of their own well-being is a vital first step when it comes to supporting their mental health and wellness. This can be via whatever means they prefer – like yoga, meditation, art therapy or journaling. People who have relaxing hobbies tend to have less stress in their lives, so consider offering group wellness activities for your team to bond.
Providing clear boundaries in relation to working hours is important. Let them know you expect them to work their required hours and not take work home with them. “For any non-urgent emails I write to my team after 6 pm, I schedule them to deliver the following morning” shares Diamond. Clear boundaries will help to reduce any work-related pressure they’re experiencing. Nobody likes feeling obliged to work from home, especially if they’re not feeling 100 percent.
Investing in Employee Assistance Programs can help your employees massively. Some people will simply not feel able to ask for help face-to-face in the workplace. Having the tools to help facilitate your employees accessing help, whether it’s apps, hotlines, or counselling services, can really help when members of your team are struggling with their mental health.
Promote a good company culture where honesty and openness are paramount. An open-door policy where employees feel comfortable to be honest about personal struggles is an essential step to promoting honesty and openness.
Consider having a day where your entire workforce enrolls in training and certification courses that teach everybody how to identify and respond to serious mental health emergencies in the workplace. Trainings like MHFA (Mental Health First Aid) are invaluable because they teach you how to recognize the signs and symptoms of a mental illness and what to do to ensure that person gets help safely.
In many workplaces, sick days are only acceptable for physical illnesses. Let your employees know that sick days incorporate all health and wellness needs – including personal days and mental health days. Try not to pry if employees feel uncomfortable with talking about why they need a sick day. Instead, just let them know you’re there for support. “At Diamond & Diamond Lawyers, if anyone needs to take a day off, we don’t ask questions. There is a fundamental value of trust” shares Diamond.
Make sure senior staff are familiar with provincial accessibility legislation (e.g. AODA) as it pertains to mental health and workplace accommodations. Your employees, and new recruits when they’re hired, should be aware that accommodations can be provided.
About Jeremy Diamond
Jeremy Diamond is a lawyer and member of both Ontario and Florida Bars. Jeremy practices in the area of Plaintiff personal injury litigation. Click here to learn more about Jeremy Diamond.