Managers are the key to better mental health in the workplace

The CIPD has called for more training for managers and leaders in order to improve employee mental health.

Their recent report, the Health and Wellbeing at Work Survey, highlighted the increase in presenteeism (continuing to attend work while unwell) and leaveism (continuing to do work whilst on sick leave or holiday). Both of these phenomena are increasingly common, and can significantly impact employees’ wellbeing, and ultimately the productivity of the organisation as a whole.

Good leadership means healthy workplaces

Rachel Suff, Senior Employee Relations Adviser at the CIPD, said the survey uncovered the ‘shocking scale’ of the problem, and encouraged organisations to look beyond their absence figures in order to get a firm grip on how healthy their workplace really is.

She also advised employers to ensure their leadership team is more vigilant to the problem, saying: “Good leadership and people management practices form the bedrock of healthy and resilient workplaces.”

Pam Whelan from Simplyhealth added: “The report shows that organisations where senior leaders and line managers recognise the importance of well-being as a whole are more likely to report a reduction in presenteeism and leaveism. Therefore, in order to tackle these unhealthy work practices, we would encourage employers to invest in a wider health and well-being approach that is embedded into their culture and one that supports a preventative approach to employee health and well-being.”

Middle managers under ‘excessive’ pressure

While it’s key for managers to look after the wellbeing of their staff, the CIPD has also found that this middle-tier of workers reports the highest levels of anxiety, depression and exhaustion. In their UK Working Lives survey, they discovered that 31% of managers reported feeling overloaded, and 23% said they feel under excessive pressure. Meanwhile 28% believe their work negatively affects their mental health.

So a good health and wellbeing strategy must take a holistic approach. This means supporting managers to be more vigilant to the signs of poor mental health within their teams, but also giving them the tools to build on their own resilience.

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