Managing Mental Health In-Salon
As a modern salon owner, you must do so much more than run a full column and manage the business, you also act as mum, dad, social worker, and shoulder to cry on for your staff.
You are probably confident in dealing with physical ill health but may be less sure of how best to approach mental ill health. Yet it should be similar, with a focus on how you can best support the team member back to work and/or to perform at their best.
Being approachable, available, and encouraging staff to talk to you if they are having problems is the first step to being able to help with mental ill health, but you also need to be clear that a one size fits all approach won't work.
Signs to look out for:
- Changes in usual behaviour, mood or how they interact with colleagues
- Changes in the standard of their work or focus on tasks
- Appearing tired, anxious, or withdrawn and reduced interest in tasks they previously enjoyed
- Changes in appetite and/or increase in smoking and drinking
- Increase in sickness absence and/or turning up late to work
Not everyone who experiences mental ill health will exhibit obvious signs, however the earlier you become aware that a team member is experiencing mental ill health the sooner you can help.
Nip issues in the bud
Knowing how to best approach and talk to a team member who may be experiencing mental ill health may seem difficult, and it can be tempting to avoid the matter.
However, it is much better to try to resolve concerns at an early stage and nip issues in the bud before they can escalate further or worsen.
The best approach
If you believe a team member may be experiencing mental ill health, then you should take the lead and arrange a meeting as soon as possible to talk to the team member in private.
The conversation should be approached in a positive and supportive way. These conversations can be very difficult for both you and the team member, so it is vital that you stay calm and patient, are supportive and offer reassurance.
The conversation – practical advice:
- Move the conversation to a private space, where they will not be disturbed. This can be hard to achieve during the normal working day, so if you don't have an office space then either hold the conversation when the salon is closed or at a different venue (not in public).
- Thank the team member for coming to talk to you.
- Allow them as much time as they need.
- Focus on what the team member says.
- Be open minded.
- Try to identify what the cause is.
- Think about potential solutions (for example it maybe that a small change in their working life e.g., hours could make all the difference).
- Be prepared for the unexpected.
- Adjourn the meeting if it is necessary to think through what has been discussed before deciding.
It is also quite possible that the team member isn't ready or feels able to talk to you about what they are going through. If this happens then it's best not to put them under pressure, but to simply offer reassurance that you are available, any time, whenever they are ready. However, if their performance slips you may need to call a meeting to discuss their poor performance and the reasons behind it.
Support your team member
Sometimes staff experiencing mental ill health will need to be absent from work for a period. This may be because they are too ill to work, or it could be because the medication they are on means they are not able to safely carry out their work.
To support staff while they are away from the workplace you should:
- Agree when and how regular contact will be maintained during the absence.
- Be positive, professional, and supportive at all times.
- Agree what the team member would like their work colleagues to know about their absence and how they are doing.
- Not pressure the team member to return to work before they feel ready.
- Encourage a phased return.
Maintaining regular contact is vital
Lack of contact can lead to misunderstandings, make the team member feel that they are not missed and make it much harder for them to return. Sometimes, it may be appropriate to arrange to meet up in a neutral venue away from the workplace to catch up.
An absent team member may request no contact, but it is important that you don't accept this. However, if the team member alleges that you have been a factor in their mental ill health, it may be preferable for them to stay in contact with someone else at the salon if that's an option.
Returning to the salon
When a team member is ready to return to work, it is important to ensure that they feel supported and understand what will be expected of them on their return.
Again, you should consider meeting them away from the workplace before they return to discuss their return and alleviate any concerns they may have.
A return-to-work interview should also be held once they do return.
Most staff who experience mental ill health will recover and return to being a valuable and productive member of the team. However, on some occasions, even with adjustments in place, a team member's performance or conduct may warrant further action.
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