Ilmarinen / Work ability / Mental health / Employer / Take action
Employer – take action
Make early support, caring and work accommodation part of daily management. It helps you to promote mental health at your workplace.
Identify issues and address them early on
The objective of early support is to help workplaces support their employees’ coping at work, reduce unnecessary absences due to illness and the prolongation of illnesses, and to support the employees’ return to work. So try to identify possible issues and address them early on. Make sure that supervisors have sufficient capabilities and competence to both recognise potential problem situations and address them. Provide supervisors with opportunities to maintain and refresh their competence and share their experiences. In a good situation, early support measures are not often needed.
Train and support supervisors in identifying, anticipating and preventing psychosocial stress and the harmful impacts of stress. In the best-case scenario, they get to resolve issues well before they lead to sick leave, diagnosable conditions and official early support measures. Build successful collaboration with the occupational health service provider so that the employees or supervisors are not left alone to find a way to manage the situation.
It may often be easier for an employee to talk about their difficulties or psychological symptoms with their colleagues than their supervisors. Make sure that every employee knows what kind of support is available. It is easier for employees to seek help for mental health issues when a person who is close to them and whom they trust encourages them to do so.
Provide a framework for work accommodation and flexibility, authorise supervisors
Accommodating work on the basis of physical limitations and symptoms is easier than dealing with mental health issues. Standards and guidelines on cognitive ergonomics, for example, provide support for these accommodations.
When dealing with mental health issues accommodating work may seem harder, because it is not always easy to specify the limits and accomodations as explicitly as with physical health conerns. Appropriate accommodations include, for example, limiting the work tasks, increasing feedback, appointing a support person or briefly stepping out of a customer service position or supervisory role.
Determine in advance what kind of ccommodations can be made at your workplace. Authorise supervisors to use their discretion within the provided framework when accommodation is needed.
Our specialists are happy to help you find the right work ccommodation models to meet your workplace’s needs. We have long-standing experience in vocational rehabilitation and supporting return to work. These kinds of work accommodations are also an effective tool when adapting employees’ workload to help them cope at work, even in cases which do not involve rehabilitation or sick leaves.
Promote mental health at the workplace
You can best promote mental health at the workplace by developing the working conditions and the organisation of work. A suitable amount of work and good conditions for performing it create a foundation for well-being and mental health.
Also make sure that there are sufficient structures in place and enough time and opportunities for discussions between employees and supervisors. Regular development discussions are a good starting point. In addition to them, pay attention to providing supervisors with the opportunity to hold regular discussions with their employees once a week or every two weeks.
Positive interpersonal relationships, physical health, strengthening one’s self-esteem, kindness and acceptance, improving problem-solving, conflict, resolution and interaction skills and the opportunity for self-fulfilment are all factors that promote mental health. As an employer, you have a significant opportunity to promote these areas.
- Provide meaningful and inspiring work opportunities and an encouraging way of organising work.
- Provide employees with opportunities to develop both their professional skills, their self-confidence and social skills.
- Provide employees with more opportunities to participate in decision-making.
- Recognise supervisors’ key role in supporting employees and make sure they have the time and other resources to fulfill this role.
- Create a positive work environment, clarify tasks, responsibilities and expectations.
- Reduce work stressors and improve individuals’ stress tolerance by strengthening their coping mechanisms.
- Improve the reconciliation and balancing of work and leisure.
- Encourage an atmosphere of entrepreneurship, engagement and equality. Adopt zero tolerance for labelling, harassment and discrimination.
- Support people with mental health issues. Keep them at work and support their return to work.
- Develop and implement procedures that support mental health and well-being.
- Monitor and assess the effectiveness of the measures carried out; be prepared to change plans.