Infographic on Managing Someone with a Mental Health Condition (PDF)
Seven tips to support an employee at work
This fact sheet is endorsed and supported by WorkSafe Victoria.
Because everyone’s circumstances are different, a plan to help someone return to work or stay at work will need to be tailored for the individual, taking into account some general points. A good question to ask yourself is: “What would we do if it were a physical illness?” Many of the management principles are the same, including:
1. Offering support
Ask the person if there is anything you can do to support them to remain at or return to work. This may include advice about where to get assistance. The employee may not wish to take up your offer, but it’s important to let them know support is available.
2. Developing a plan to remain at or return to work
Collaborative plans that meet both parties’ needs – rather than something to be complied with – are much more likely to succeed. Don’t make assumptions about what the employee finds challenging or what will benefit them. Rather, talk about it together as you work through the following steps:
3. Being inclusive
Experiencing anxiety or depression can make people feel less confident at times. Help the employee to feel more comfortable by including them in meetings and work social events to support their recovery. Fear of stigma – actual or perceived – can also affect people’s confidence. Speak openly about mental health conditions in the workplace and encourage others to do the same.
4. Staying in touch
If an employee has taken some time off as part of their recovery, keeping in touch will make their return to the workplace smoother and easier for everyone involved. Maintaining connections with colleagues and the workplace can help employees feel valued. It also gives them an opportunity to give their opinion on decisions or changes in the workplace, even if they aren’t there. However, it’s also important that the employee doesn’t feel pressured to return to work before they’re fully ready.
5. Addressing the causes
If there are specific work-related factors which the employee feels have contributed to their condition, it’s important that you listen to their views and take action where appropriate. This can help to improve outcomes for the individual and for the organisation, as well as ensuring that other employees are not at risk.
6. Setting clear expectations
Good planning prevents confusion. Writing up a return to work or
stay at work plan which includes the nature of duties and hours
of work sets clear expectations for all involved. Everyone should agree to be flexible to allow for any changes that may occur during recovery. Any agreed workplace modifications should be implemented gradually to allow for adjustment.
7. Maintaining confidentiality and privacy
While it’s important to inform the wider team of any changes that affect them, such as reallocating workloads or a reduction of hours, the details of the employee’s condition and treatment must remain confidential unless they give their permission. Talk to the person about what they would like other colleagues to know and how they’d like to share this information.
Managers aren’t doing enough to support anxious employees—here’s how to start
1. Check in with everybody — and more than once
2. Connect employees with the right resources
3. Be as vulnerable as you feel comfortable with
4. Depersonalize the feeling
How to manage an employee with anxiety at work
Signs of employee anxiety to look out for include:
🙅♀️Be conscious of your professional boundaries
❓Ask them what support they need
🚩 Point people towards anxiety resources
⏰ Offer more flexibility
💻 Communicate any changes to workload
🗓 Avoid mystery meetings
🗣 Arrange personal check-ins
🧠 Respect alone time
Tips for Assisting Employees with Depression and Anxiety Disorders
How To Manage Workplace Anxiety
What are some of the symptoms of workplace anxiety?
What causes workplace anxiety?
Giving Feedback to Employees with Anxiety: A How-To Guide
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