Mental Health is increasingly coming out of the ‘shadows’ – this is a good thing. It’s something we need to be able to acknowledge and talk about, and support.
But according to new statistics it is showing up in the workplace more than ever before — and this is something that employers need to address, and be prepared for.
By Paul Rattray
Worker’s compensation claims for psychological injuries are growing by 13 to 17 per cent per year. Furthermore, the statistics show that only half of the people who leave the workplace for mental health reasons are able to return to work within six months (compared to 90%) of people with physical issues.
Work pressure, bullying and harassment are driving the bulk of the claims, and the most common issues are anxiety and depression.
Employee wellbeing was mooted as a significant issue for employers to focus on immediately in the return to work period post-Covid-19, but at the time, many of us were focused on re-settling staff into routines and being mindful that we’d all been through significant disruption which made many of us rethink our life priorities and to some degree, changed us in inexplicable ways.
But according to the recent figures from iCare this goes beyond any post-pandemic stress, although certainly working from home is something that could be a contributing factor, according to the experts, because it can be difficult to put boundaries around the work day, and work spills over into much needed rest and recreation time.
But the other interesting thing to note is that these figures are mirroring the trajectory of figures around reporting of incidences of sexual harassment and bullying – not just at work, but also within the community in general.
And, it is something that employers are going to need to place significant focus on, and investment in.
Small Businesses have the advantage of having small teams – therefore, it’s not difficult to stay ‘close’ to people, to continually check in, to keep conversations going.
This is something to use to your advantage – keep the lines of communication open, so you stay on top of what’s happening with your employees – not just to gauge how they are cooperating and collaborating but so you can also understand how they are coping.
While HR is not our area of speciality, we can help you ensure that you have the appropriate insurances in place to deal with any mental health or psychological injury claims that may come up in your business and that you have appropriate contingency plans in place to deal with people (roles) who might be off work for extended periods of time.