How far is too far before the intervention of an employer? Do employers have any responsibility to their employees outside the work environment? Are employers the first to be blamed whenever an incident regarding an employee occurs? Sadly employers are at times, if not most times, held responsible to a certain degree when it comes to the welfare of employees. Whenever the word ‘stress’ is mentioned in relation to a work environment, the usual train of thought is directed towards the employer. Questions start to pop up in the minds of people wondering if employees are being saddled with too much work or if they are being pushed beyond what they can handle under the tyranny of an employer. It is thought that the employee is being unfairly treated. However, how much this might hold true in some cases it is immensely partial and discriminatory to have such bias.
Employers in business are not doctors or professional psychiatrists. The entire blame should not be thrown towards employers neither should the burden be placed entirely on them. Life outside the workplace can be just as hectic or stressful for employees and for some, the work environment is an escape for them. It allows them some form of balance in their life. It is the one thing they feel in control of. However, for those whose stress is work induced, employers should not only be sensitive to both the physical and mental state of their employees, but should be quick to act in order to provide a solution and ensure good working conditions.
As an Employer…
The prejudice faced as an employer is almost never ending and as a result places employers in a tough position where they are perceived as the villain in almost all scenarios. Cases where employees have had challenges they were unable to handle and as a result were incapable of functioning at their best with daily tasks at work, the blame tends to fall on the employer. Sadly if these scenarios were to be properly investigated, it would be found that at times, the employer was not aware or informed of the circumstances surrounding the employee in question. The employee not only failed to speak up but kept this issue hidden till it became apparent.
Although it is virtually impossible for all employers to avoid cases like this, there are still steps which can be taken by employers.
A major reason why employees tend to dismiss the idea of approaching their employers about the challenges they face is the fact that some employers are not approachable. As an employer, you have to be approachable. It is imperative that employers facilitate good relationships with their employees.
You as an employer have the duty of providing an environment that not only facilitates productivity but also ensures that mental health is taken care of. Although it can be tasking, a daily, weekly or monthly report should be made so as to go over the productivity, absence and turnover statistics for each employee or department and wherever any issues are spotted immediate action should be taking in order to find out the cause and how best to remedy the situation.
Trainings on people skills should be made mandatory for employers. An employer should facilitate a positive relationship with his/her employee enabling them to easily approach him/her. Grievances do not always need to be in writing to be acted upon. Employees should feel comfortable enough to approach their employers.
Mental Health has no visible signs
Unlike the importance given to physical health conditions, mental health is still a topic many employers still fail to recognize as important. It might be due to the possible cost to the business that scares employers hence why they would rather treat mental health has nonexistent in the workplace.
Mental health problems such as depression and anxiety are major causes of decreased productivity at the workplace. When an Employer notices the decrease in work productivity of such an employee as a result of an underlying mental health issue, he/she should ensure that asides the needed proper medical attention, workplace adjustments can go a long way in reinforcing the importance and value of such an employee hence boosting the morale of the employee. A call here or there or a text once in a while with the invitation of “Whenever you want to talk, I am here” speaks volumes of positive support. This might be the needed push in the right direction to seek help.
This is not to say that arms should be opened at all times without any form of caution. Work still needs to be done and it would have a negative effect if it were perceived that preference was being given to an employee over the other.
Tom Street qualified as a solicitor in 2003 and has over 20 years experience in employment and litigation law. He studied law at the University of Manchester before undertaking the legal practice course at the College of Law in Guildford, going on to complete his legal training at a firm in Chancery Lane, London. Once fully qualified, he moved to a niche litigation practice in the City of London.
In 2010, Tom set up his own legal practice, Tom Street & Co Solicitors and as part of this, in accordance with his strongly held objective to provide everyone with an easy pathway to justice he established the online portals Do I Have A Case? and Tribunal Claim. These websites are trading names of Tom Street & Co Solicitors.