A key aspect of being a manager is having a duty of care to protect the health and welfare of the people you work with. Focusing on what are the most likely sources of stress for your employees, is a great way to identify what could also be the best kind of support they need.

The Heath and Safety Executive has identified six key ‘risk factors’ that can lead to work related stress:
• the demands of your job
• your control over your work
• the support you receive from managers and colleagues
• your relationships at work
• your role in the organisation
change and how it’s managed

Approaching a sensitive topic such as mental health in the workplace can feel like a daunting prospect. Knowing the major areas of work-related stress can guide you in bringing structure to any risk assessment you may wish to undertake.

Here are some useful guidelines Mind has put together on how to best raise a concern with your employee. Remember, to always invite a response from the employee, it’s then the employee’s choice whether to reveal personal information or not.

Prior or during the conversation:

• choose an appropriate place to have a conversation – somewhere private and quiet
• encourage people to talk – ask simple, open ended and non-judgmental questions
don’t make assumptions – don’t try to guess, don’t use leading questions
• listen to people and respond flexibly – adapt your response for support to suit the individual
• be honest and clear – address specific grounds for concern at an early stage
• ensure confidentiality is respected, except in case of a safeguarding concern. A breach of confidentiality may constitute discrimination under the Equality Act.
encourage people to seek advice and support
• seek advice and support yourself
reassure people – people may not always be ready to talk straight away
• develop a wellness action plan

After the conversation has happened:

agree next steps and actions
record all conversations accurately: this protects you, the employee and the company
consider if a stress risk assessment needs to be performed
seek advice: HR or Health & Safety may be good information sources to use as well as mental health specialised charities.

Sources: Mind and HSE

Author: Sarah Speziali, Chief Therapist at InsideOut
Insta: @lettheinsideout