The importance of generating and sustaining a mentally and physically safe workspace has its benefits for both employers and employees. As an employer, you have a duty of care towards all staff, and it is essential to prioritise their mental health and wellbeing. One of the first steps is to recognise if employees are struggling with their mental health. While addressing changes in an employee’s behaviour are not always easy, it is an important step towards offering them support and guiding them to seek further help.
At Wavecare Counselling Services, we offer affordable mental health support to people living in the City of Monash and Melbourne. Today, we’re going to look at three signs that may indicate that your staff members could be experiencing challenges in the workplace. Recognising these signs will generate a healthier and productive workplace by prioritising the wellbeing of all employees.
Decline in Productivity
A key indicator of an employee struggling with their mental health is a decline in their work performance. You may notice that a staff member fails to complete tasks that they normally would, they struggle significantly with their workload, or the quality of their work isn’t delivered at the usual standard. While these factors may originate for a variety of reasons, mental health struggles can certainly influence a staff member’s productivity.
However, there may be instances where a worker struggling from depression or anxiety actually overworks as a way to escape from issues impacting their personal lives. Everyone deals with anxiety or depression differently, but a noticeable difference in their performance may be indicative of the employee experiencing some difficulties.
If your employee has a decline in productivity, have an honest and respectful conversation with them about how their workload can be adapted to make tasks more manageable. Employees will appreciate the concern shown and you will work towards creating a work environment where being open is encouraged and showing vulnerability is acceptable.
Mental illness is one of the leading causes of absenteeism in the workplace. Employees taking more personal leave may indicate that they are struggling with their mental health. Nearly 25% of Australian workers take an average of 50 hours off work per year due to depression. That absenteeism increases to an average of 138 hours for the 8% of Australian workers who suffer from moderate to severe depression. When people experience anxiety or depression, everyday tasks can appear overwhelming and burdensome.
If you notice an employee taking more personal leave than usual, and it is evident that they aren’t suffering from any physical illness, check in with them and ask how they are. See if there is anything you can do to help them with their work commitments during this time. It would be best to make it clear that you value their downtime and understand the importance of feeling better first before returning to work motivated and energised.
Changes in Mood
While many employees strive to always keep a professional and positive attitude in the workplace, there is a limit to how much they can cope with if they are already struggling. As such, you may notice changes in their mood and emotional states that may indicate an underlying mental issue.
These emotional changes can be both big and small. You may notice a staff member spending more time alone at work, contributing less to team discussions, or changes in their behaviour like increased irritability or aggression.
While any form of aggressive behaviour is unacceptable, mood swings are a common sign of someone struggling with their mental health. As an employer, you should check in with employees when you notice emotions and behaviours are noticeably different. This can be as simple as asking them if everything is okay, whether they want to talk, or helping them find professional help if they need it.
Get in Touch
For the past 40 years, Wavecare has been helping the people in the City of Monash cope with their mental health struggles through affordable and effective counselling and support services. If you are currently experiencing mental distress in any aspect of your life – work, personal, or otherwise – then it’s important to get in touch with professional support. Contact us on (03) 9560 6722.