There’s so much written about how to run a successful business from the way you recruit, manage and retain staff to how to understand a cashflow statement that it’s easy to get overwhelmed. This blog post looks at why mental health matters for small business owners and what to do if you are starting to wonder why you set up a business in the first place.

Why mental health matters

Mental health matters just as much as physical health but there’s still a sense of reticence from business owners when it comes to talking about mental well-being issues. Some business owners think that by opening up about mental health matters, could have a detrimental effect on their company finances.

When you support your own and your employees’ mental health in the workplace, this leads to increased productivity and efficiency and reduces absenteeism plus decreases in staff turnover.

Creating a mental well-being program in the workplace

Having a clear policy of mental well-being support as well as effective delivery tools for helping staff to better mental health means your business can attract and retain the best employees.

Firstly you need to identify those most at risk of mental wellbeing issues. Young employees and those approaching menopause and retirement may be more at risk of mental health issues but managers should be sufficiently aware of what’s going on in their employees’ lives to spot mental health concerns in time to provide support.

Have open communication about mental health concerns so that staff have a place to turn when they need to talk. Employees need to feel safe, to be honest about their physical and mental health without fear of disciplinary action or impact on future career prospects.

Provide appropriate training to management so they are equipped to talk in an educated way to employees who approach them with mental health challenges. Training can also benefit all staff who might not know how to approach issues they may have observed with colleagues. Consider training up a mental health first aider for your company.

How to recognise mental health issues

Spotting the warning signs of mental health issues at work is a priority for all companies who want to ensure they look after staff whilst maintaining business productivity and profitability.

Some of the telltale signs that colleagues/managers might observe include:

  • Uncharacteristic behaviour such as angry outbursts
  • Disinterest in work or daily life
  • Reductions in productivity
  • Withdrawal from socialising
  • Increased absence and reduction in punctuality
  • Irrational fears, depression or anxiety

What are the causes of poor mental health in the workplace?

One of the big causes of poor mental health at work is feeling stressed due to excessive demands from senior management. Inadequate communication can lead to job insecurity, especially at times when the economy is struggling. Inflexible and long working hours can also cause stress and could lead to burnout if not properly managed.

Poor mental health can also be caused by a lack of job autonomy, micro-management, weak decision making processes, unclear roles and responsibilities or a lack of clarity over organisational or individual objectives.

Here are some tips to ensure your mental health is well, healthy in your business.

  1. Prioritize self-care: Make sure you are taking care of yourself physically and emotionally. This can include getting enough sleep, eating well, exercising, and engaging in activities that bring you joy.
  2. Manage stress: Stress can be a major contributor to mental health problems. Identify what triggers your stress and find ways to manage it, such as practicing mindfulness or meditation, delegating tasks, or taking breaks.
  3. Seek support: Don’t be afraid to reach out for help. This can include talking to a trusted friend, family member, or therapist, joining a support group, or seeking professional help.
  4. Set boundaries: It’s important to set boundaries between your work and personal life. Establishing a routine, setting work hours, and taking time off can help you manage your stress and maintain a healthy work-life balance.
  5. Stay connected: Running a small business can be isolating, so it’s important to stay connected with others. This can include networking with other business owners, attending industry events, or joining online communities.

Getting support for your business

It’s clear to most business owners why mental health matters but it may not always be straightforward to create a supportive environment, especially in the start up years when you might be asking a lot from a small team of staff. Small business owners can find time management particularly challenging. Get support by outsourcing some of your admin and/or project management. Email or complete my contact form.

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