The Employer: Workplace Case Study
Recently we talked to an employer who was managing and supporting an employee with mental ill health in a positive and proactive way. We asked Simon to write down his experience.
“The business case for supporting an employee with mental ill health”
Written by Simon, Public Sector Senior Manager.
I have been managing ‘Jane’ a part time employee for 18 months. As well as working for us she also worked for another organisation with which we have links. About a year ago in a line management meeting Jane disclosed that she was suffering from acute anxiety and depression and wanted to end her life. She said that she had been referred to a crisis mental health team and was prepared to engage with them but doubted it would be helpful.
We talked about what support she thought would be helpful from the organisation and me as her manager, she believed that some flexibility in how and when she did her work was important and some additional contact with me as her manager in the form of a weekly check-in call would be helpfully supportive. I arranged for her to see an occupational mental health specialist to help identify how best to support Jane in her role.
She told me that she had also told her other employer but they had, in her view overreacted, and instead of offering any flexibility had become more rigid, requiring her to be in the office at specific times no matter how she was feeling and report to the manager with increased frequency. She thought they had gone in to “panic mode” and didn’t really know how to handle the situation. Jane said she experienced their reaction as punitive and it felt being checked up on as if they no longer trusted to do her job. This made her made her even more anxious and had the effect of making it more difficult for her to be in work to the point that she eventually went off sick from that job.
It is now a year in and after several months off sick and being paid Jane eventually left her other employer as she found their attitude unsupportive and challenging. In contrast we have made some reasonable workplace adjustments to ensure that Jane continues to have the flexibility she needs in our employment and we have agreed with her a framework that ensures she feels supported while meeting the needs of the business. Jane hasn’t had a single days sickness absence in the last year with us and I’m pleased to say that she has been able to access good mental health treatment and is in a much better place than she was a year ago.
We employed Jane because she had the right skills we needed for the job and I’m pleased that we’ve been able to benefit from her skills and hard work over the last year, from a business perspective the value to the business ensuring Jane was supported in work has been far better outcome than having someone off sick, having to find cover for their work and eventually having to re-recruit.
Thanks for sharing with us Simon!
It is wonderful to see with some well managed steps Simon was able to make a real difference for his employee and help work through a variety of issues with simple supportive care and appropriate sign-posting. It doesn’t have to be time-consuming, difficult or scary. By empowering employees to seek help, look after their own wellbeing and let them know we are human and hold empathy for their situation, we can make not only their working environment a happier place to be, but also nurture a more productive and healthy community of employees.
You can also empower your employees by equipping them with the tools to support themselves and their colleagues with Mental Health First Aid training.
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