During May 2019, we saw Mental Health Awareness week in the UK. During this week, the campaign broke stigmas by encouraging open, honest conversations through social media and events. Since then, Triple Three Solutions has been further considering the connection to mental health and the workplace. In our latest blog, during National Stress Awareness Month, we spoke about work-related stress and the connection to mental and physical health issues. However, the discussion is not over. Whilst events such as the above are fantastic for creating awareness, we must remember that these issues do not only affect people during a particular week or month and therefore need to continue to be spoken about throughout the year.

Triple Three Solutions has previously spoken about measures that employers can take to aim to prevent workplace related mental health issues; however, in this blog we wish to discuss a slightly different matter. What happens if, regardless of your efforts as an employer, a member of staff needs time off work for their mental health? After all, work-related stress is only one of the many factors that can lead to mental health issues.

The CIPD People Managers’ Guide to Mental Health provides a great amount of information on how to deal with mental health in the workplace. Today, we will be discussing one particular part of this guide in further detail.

How to support your staff in their return to work:

If an employee needs time off to recover from a mental (or physical) health issue, the way in which your business operates can be crucial in helping them return to work and able to perform to the best of their ability. Below is some what we believe are the most important things to consider when supporting staff in their return to work.  

Communication:

Keeping in contact with your employee over this period is paramount. Agree with the employee on how often to check-in with them and by what means (e.g. email, phone call, home visit etc.). Be mindful of pressuring the return to work too early, yet enforce the importance of communication at this time. Ensure you have an absence management policy in place to make this clear to the employee/s at all times. You may also want to keep the employee in the loop about current projects etc. so that when they do return they don’t feel like they’re walking into a completely new job.

Return-to-work Assessment:

Coming back to work after a prolonged period can be a daunting task for anyone, not to mention after/whilst dealing with mental health issues. An informal, empathetic interview (recommended by CIPD research) before the first day back can allow you to build trust and show the employee they are valued, whilst addressing any concerns or necessary support going forward. You may also need to discuss how the employee wishes to address the situation with their colleagues, e.g. what will you tell them upon the employees return to work, if anything?

Returning to work:  

Coming back to work can be difficult for your employee and may require an adjustment period. Consider the possibility of a phased return, with on-hand support to deal with workloads, deadlines etc. It is crucial to be proactive within the coming weeks; checking in with the employee frequently, offering support and on-going care.

How Triple Three Solutions can help:

Here at Triple Three Solutions, we often deal with difficult situations and communications inside HR. Mental health issues in the workplace can sometimes require an impartial, outside perspective that we are very happy and experienced to offer.  For more information on how we can help, or for any other HR Advice, feel free to get in touch. Reach us on 0333 050 3330 or via email at lisa@triplethreesolutions.co.uk, or use our contact page here.

In the meantime, please find below some instant resources for dealing with mental health issues from some of the organisations mentioned in this blog.

www.time-to-change.org.uk

www.mind.org.uk