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Good mental health is good for your business

You’re probably pretty confident when dealing with an employee’s physical ill health but might be less sure how to approach mental ill health. And as a caring employer you’ll want to do all you can to help.

Best practice is to focus on supporting your employee back to work and performing at their usual high standards. It’s in their best interests and the best interests of your business.

Signs to look out for

Not everyone who experiences mental ill health will show any obvious signs. However, the sooner you realise that a team member is experiencing mental ill health, the sooner you can help.

Look out for:

  • Changes in their usual behaviour, mood or how they interact with colleagues.
  • Changes in the standard of their work or levels of concentration.
  • Appearing tired, anxious or withdrawn.
  • Less interest in tasks they previously enjoyed.
  • Changes in appetite and/or increase in smoking or drinking.
  • Increase in sickness absence and/or turning up late for work.
What you can do

Being approachable, available and encouraging employees to talk to you if they are having problems is the first step to take. A consistent open-door policy coupled with the assurance of absolute confidentiality is vital.

Top tip: It is much better to try to resolve concerns at an early stage and help your employee in getting the support they need as soon as possible.

The best approach

If you believe a team member may be experiencing mental ill health, take the lead and arrange a meeting as soon as possible to talk with them in private.

Be positive and supportive, stay calm and patient and offer reassurance.

  • Make sure you can meet in a private space where you won’t be disturbed. If you don't have an office, meet when the salon is closed or at a different venue (not in public).
  • Thank your team member for coming to talk to you.
  • Allow them as much time as they need.
  • Focus on what they say and listen carefully.
  • Be open minded and non-judgemental.
  • Try to identify the causes.
  • Think about potential solutions (for example, it maybe that a small change in their working life such as different hours could make all the difference).
  • Be prepared for the unexpected.
  • Don’t be afraid to adjourn the meeting if you need time to consider what has been discussed before reaching a decision

Top tip: Don’t pressurise your employee if they are not ready to talk to you. Make it clear that you are available any time whenever they’re ready. In the meantime, keep an eye on them. However, if their performance starts to suffer you may need to arrange a meeting to find out what’s going on. Don’t be confrontational or critical – make it clear that their wellbeing is your top priority.

Support your team member

Employees experiencing mental ill health may need time off work.

They may be too ill to work, or the medication they are on means they can’t safely carry out their work.

To support them while they are away from work, you should:

  • Agree when and how regular contact will be maintained during their absence.
  • Be positive, professional and supportive at all times.
  • Agree exactly what information their work colleagues can know about their absence and how they are doing.
  • Never pressure them to return to work before they feel ready.
  • Encourage a phased return.
 Regular contact is vital

Lack of contact can lead to misunderstandings, make your team member feel they’re not missed and make it much harder for them to return.

  • Consider meeting up in a neutral venue away from the workplace to catch up.
  • Ask your employee which colleague they would prefer to keep in contact with them – this may be you or a team member they often work with (make sure they are happy to provide updates before agreeing to this).
  • Tactfully decline any requests for no contact. Try to come to some agreement – for example, texts or emails only.
 Returning to the salon

When your team member is ready to return to work, it’s important to ensure that they feel supported and know what will be expected of them on their return.

Consider meeting them away from the workplace before they return to discuss the arrangements and put to rest any concerns they may have.

Don’t forget to carry out a return-to-work interview once they are back at work and keep a discreet eye on them to make sure they are OK.

Top tip: Don’t forget: the Equality Act 2010 says it is against the law to discriminate against your employees because of a mental or physical disability.

Members: Don’t forget you get unlimited access to our industry experts for business advice and information. So if you are considering further disciplinary or other action this, please give us a call to discuss the options open to you.