Reducing Absenteeism with Employee Mental Wellbeing Initiatives
What role does employee mental wellbeing have on reducing absenteeism?
Employees battling with poor mental health might opt to take time off, either to cope with acute episodes or to avoid triggers present in the workplace. Additionally, the stigma associated with discussing mental health may deter open communication about the root cause of the absences.
The environment and culture of a workplace play a significant role in shaping an employee’s response to stressors. In organisations where there is a perceived lack of understanding or support for mental health, individuals might feel cornered into silence, preferring to take unscheduled leaves rather than disclosing their struggles.
As a result, managers and peers might misinterpret frequent absences, attributing them to a lack of commitment or poor work ethic, deepening the divide and misunderstanding. This cycle perpetuates an environment where neither the employee’s wellbeing is addressed nor is the underlying cause of absenteeism understood.
Extended sick leave for employees with long-term illness
The number of days lost to sickness absence for those with long-term health conditions is now at a record high of 104.9 million days, according to the latest statistics from the ONS.
Behind this significant number are real-life narratives of people struggling to strike a balance between their health needs and their professional commitments. Often, they find themselves caught in the dilemma of wanting to contribute meaningfully at work while also needing to prioritise their wellbeing. The economic implications are substantial as businesses grapple with lost productivity and the logistical challenges of managing extended absences. However, the societal and human aspects cannot be overlooked either.
What are some causes of absenteeism that employees may not disclose?
- Problems with colleagues
- Poor leadership
- Childcare or eldercare
- Injuries or illness
How can managers deal with absenteeism?
Mental wellbeing initiatives can be a simple yet effective way of letting employees know they have additional support in their workplace. Strategically developed initiatives can act as an additional level of support for managers who are trying to reduce unexplained absenteeism within their teams.
Also, mental health initiatives can indirectly encourage the use of mental health tools and resources that equip individuals with coping mechanisms and strategies to handle stress and personal challenges proactively.
Examples of mental health initiatives can include:
Mental health training
Offering specialised training delivered by mental health experts can assist managers in understanding and spotting common psychological issues.
Supporting awareness days
Recognising and showing support for national awareness days such as Mental Health Awareness Week or World Mental Health Day is a great way to demonstrate to employees that you are taking a genuine interest in enhancing mental wellbeing in the workplace.
Regular One-on-One Meetings
Allocate time for regular check-ins with team members for a debrief. This can include things unrelated to work. It is vital for staff to feel comfortable sharing any mental health issues they may be facing, so ensuring that you are actively listening and maintaining eye contact is essential.
A Mental Health Policy to Support Your Wellbeing Initiatives
A workplace mental health policy is an effective way to support wellbeing initiatives as well as reducing absenteeism, and it can be tailored to the workforce’s needs, addressing common stressors or challenges employees face. Talk to one of our friendly Onebright mental health consultants to put together a business mental health policy specifically designed for your employees’ unique requirements to create a positive and uplifting environment in your workplace.