9 steps to a mentally healthier workplace

By Brihony Tulloch on May 18th, 2018
  1. Employee health & wellbeing
  2. Mental Health


As an employer, the duty of care you hold towards your employees’ physical health and safety is a key concern – but what about their mental health?

Mental illness is one of the leading causes of absence and long-term work incapacity, and has been estimated to cost Australian businesses $10.9 billion each year.

Creating a mentally healthy workplace is the key to not just protecting yourself against a discrimination claim, but to saving your business money.

However, in order to make positive changes, you need to know the current risks.

Use the following steps to assess and control mental health risks in your workplace.

Step 1: Evaluate employee satisfaction

Evaluate the level of satisfaction among your employees, e.g. through employee satisfaction surveys or one-on-one interviews. Ask employees questions relating to:

  • work demands, e.g. requirements to meet tight deadlines or work long hours;
  • consultation on, and involvement in, decision-making;
  • the clarity of their role;
  • the adequacy of resources to enable them to perform their duties;
  • their job security; and
  • exposure to bullying in the workplace.

Step 2: Assess workloads and working hours

Interview managers and employees to assess your employees’ workloads and working hours. Make reasonable accommodations where necessary.

Step 3: Assess levels of consultation

Determine whether, and how often, staff meetings or other staff engagement forums are taking place.

Assess the type and adequacy of information being provided to employees about:

  • workplace changes and initiatives; and
  • the business’s success.

Step 4: Determine the adequacy of resources

Are adequate resources being supplied to employees so they can carry out their duties? Are requests for additional resources considered and approved through a known process?

Step 5: Assess levels of absenteeism

Check sick leave records to see if there are any patterns associated with particular employees.

For example, your IT specialist has been taking personal (sick) leave every second Monday for the past 2 months, despite not exhibiting any outward symptoms of sickness. This is a pattern that may indicate a mental illness risk factor.

Step 6: Ensure employees understand their roles

Does every employee have an up-to-date job description that matches their understanding of their role and what is expected of them? This knowledge is very closely linked to productivity.

Step 7: Assess the structure of the workforce

Review team structures and assess whether they are appropriate for the work that each team is performing. Consider whether the workload given to the team is reasonable, and whether additional resources are necessary. For example, giving a very demanding, stressful project to a newly formed team may be a mental health risk for the employees in that team.

Step 8: Assess turnover

Look at any trends in employee turnover in your business. For instance, are many people leaving a certain department? High levels of turnover can be symptomatic of a problem, e.g. bullying, unreasonable workloads, poor management communication, and so on.

Step 9: Analyse and interpret information collected

Analyse the information you collect to identify any problem areas in your business. Once you have done this, you can begin working on how to minimise the mental health risks in your workplace.

If you’d like more information about mental health in the workplace, including your legal obligations in relation to mental illness, tips on discussing mental health with employees, and a step-by-step on what to do in a mental health emergency, keeping about eye out for our upcoming eBook: The Mental Health at Work Guide 2018.

Check you inbox soon for details on how you get your hands on the Guide.


Related Articles: