Bosses should be sent on mental health courses to stop employees becoming stressed and depressed, claims major study as expert reveals tips to make you happier at work.
Skipping work due to the blues, often triggered by hectic workloads, can frustrate bosses and hold employees back from achieving their ambitions
Persuading your boss to go on a mental health awareness course could stop you from becoming depressed and stressed at work – and lead to a promotion.
A landmark study found employees reported 18 per cent less sick days caused by poor mental health if their manager went on a four-hour training programme.
Hectic workloads can often lead to poor mental health, which result in sick days that can frustrate bosses and hold employees back from that pay rise.
But managers become ‘supportive’ and more aware of their stress if they go on the programme, a trial published in the prestigious The Lancet Psychiatry suggests.
This leads to employees feeling less pressure on their shoulders, allowing them to flourish in their role and avoid being gripped by depression.
The world-first University of New South Wales research, based on 128 managers responsible for close to 4,000 staff, are dubbed ‘promising’.
Here, Get The Gloss reveals exactly what employees need to do and change for their bosses to understand the reality of their poor mental health.
Dr Samuel Harvey, lead author of the study, said: ‘Workplaces and managers should be part of the solution to poor mental health.
‘One of the key problems of mental illness is the impact it can have on people’s careers, but this doesn’t have to be the case.
‘Managers are in a unique position to help employees with their mental health, yet many can feel reluctant to raise mental health concerns without formal training.
Why you really want to have a supportive manager
He added: ‘Having a supportive manager can make a huge difference to a person’s mental wellbeing.
‘As this study shows, giving basic mental health training to managers can bring significant changes to both confidence and behaviour among staff.
WHAT DOES RESPECT STAND FOR?
Half of the bosses received the four-hour RESPECT training programme to boost their mental health awareness.
It stands for:
Regular contact is essential
The Earlier the better
Supportive and empathetic communication
Practical help, not psychotherapy
Consider return to work options
Tell them the door is always open
‘With a large proportion of employees now working longer and more flexibly than in previous generations, these results are a promising sign that managers can take a more active role in assisting their employees to lead mentally healthier lives.’
It is the first ever study to show mental health training for managers can improve their employees absences from work.
It is also the first time that a monetary figure on the value of manager mental health training has been able to be calculated.
The training was associated with a return on investment of £5.94 (AUD$9.98) for every 60p (AUD$1) spent on training, the researchers found.
How was the study carried out?
The managers, from the Fire & Rescue service in New South Wales, either received the RESPECT mental health training, or were given no intervention.
Both the managers and their employees were then reassessed six months later to determine any changes in work-related sick days.
They found sick leave decreased by 18 per cent in those whose managers went on the training programme – a reduction of 6.45 hours per employee.
NARCISSISTIC BOSSES ARE BAD NEWS…
Bosses with big egos are worse for companies as they are more likely to get sued, research found in August.
Narcissistic chief executives are also more likely to trigger legal action and engage in protracted lawsuits, a study suggests.
Bigheaded bosses are more likely to disregard expert advice and act irrationally – which can prove costly to a company’s fortunes.
The character traits of ‘grandiosity and overconfidence’ make cocky CEOs indifferent to losing lawsuits, and less likely to settle legal action.
However, absences in the control group jumped by 10 per cent.
Managers feel unskilled
The researchers warned that many managers feel they don’t have the skills needed to contact an employee who is off sick for mental health reasons.
They fear contact could cause harm or lead to complaints, but the training course taught them how to do so respectfully.
Researchers said the findings mostly apply to frontline emergency services staff, who face ‘unique stressors’ throughout their daily duties.
They stressed further research is needed to confirm the results of the trial, and to determine the impact such training can have on other jobs.
The total cost of delivering the training was £625.55 (AUD$1017.13), per manager, the researchers calculated.
In 2016, 137 million sick days were recorded in Britain. Nearly 12 per cent were due for mental health issues, Government figures showed.
HOW EMPLOYEES CAN BE HAPPIER AT WORK:
Here is Get The Gloss’ guide for you to be happier at work, written by Ayesha Muttucumaru.
1. Share (but you don’t have to bare all)
Telling your manager about your mental health problem can be liberating – especially if keeping it a secret for a length of time has taken its toll.
To start off discussions on the right footing, keep the lines of communications as clear and concise as best you can.
Phanella Mayall Fine, co-founder of the Step Up Club – a website with ‘life hacks’, says it is ‘important’.
But she warns no-one should lay themselves ‘completely bare’, but tell their boss when they are suffering.
2. Be aware of your rights
As frightening as it may be share this side of yourself with your superior, disclosure could hold the key to greater legal protection.
‘Aside from the communication and relationship… you need to have disclosed your mental health issue to your employer,’ explains Phanella.
3. Choose your confidant wisely
Relationships with bosses differ from person to person and company to company, Phanella warns.
If your boss isn’t the easiest person to talk to in this regard, human resources could act as the perfect middle man for managing your problem.
4. Find the balance between personal and professional
When the day does come to raise the issue with your boss, framing your discussions around your ability to fulfil your work obligations will definitely help in driving home the message of the effect your particular problem is having on your day to day duties.
‘Try – as far as possible – to stay professional,’ says Phanella.
‘Keep the boundaries between your private self and work self intact – give matter of fact explanations rather than an in depth, blow by blow personal account.
‘Explain briefly what the issue is, how it’s impacting you and what measures you feel you need to put in place to manage that, whether through temporary flexible working or some time off.’
5. Get your paperwork in order
If you’ve sought the help of a professional, bring documentation with you to provide further details about your condition.
‘Provide more information, including a doctor’s note and, if appropriate, resources on mental health problems,’ advises Phanella.
6. Work with your boss to create a plan of action
View the process as collaborative to best devise a productive method going forward that allows you to balance both work and health commitments.
‘Be clear about what the issue is, how it’s impacting you at work and what you need from your boss to be able to manage things,’ advises Phanella.
This article originally appeared and has been reproduced with the permission of Get The Gloss.