One of the constant battles in business is to balance ethics and a desire to do the right thing with the need to make smart commercial decisions. In my experience, most people are essentially good and willing to play by the rules (or even go the extra mile); but pressure pushes them towards shortcuts and sometimes the temptation for a quick win is just too great.
We often talk about win-win in business, and there are always opportunities if you are prepared to investigate, but sometimes the obvious is just staring you in the face. When it comes to managing mental health issues in the workplace and making provision for people with disabilities, the right thing is often so much easier that the shortcut.
Ignorance is not bliss – it’s simply ignorance!
In this age of charitable appeals, support groups and awareness campaigns it is impossible to ignore the very real problems around all of us. A recent Department of Health report suggested that ‘one in six’ working adults are currently suffering from some form of mental health condition. These statistics, and many other health related issues (I didn’t want this to be a depressing post), point to the obvious conclusion that we need to take action.
The result of ignoring the health (mental or physical) of workers will be far bigger than the cost of managing it or taking a little extra care. Doing nothing is asking for trouble and statistics will tell you that (certainly if you employ more than six people) trouble will be coming eventually. Avoiding it just requires a little support.
Legal obligations and common sense relations.
Simply by implementing a number of cost-effective workplace adjustments, most businesses can give workers with disabilities all the support they need. This can both satisfy their legal obligation and, more importantly, help people with disabilities to enjoy their working lives. In some instances, particularly with mental health, this policy of proactive support in the workplace can play a major part in them managing their condition: or even recovery.
My point here is that a ‘pay as you go’ solution is better than dealing with a potentially big problem caused by ignoring an issue. Like another of the topics which I often talk about ‘small grievances leading to full-scale tribunals,’ the cost of proactive management is minimal in comparison. That is also why I always encourage my clients to set up retainer agreements for my services – it always works out more cost effective for them in the end.
Still doubt the wisdom of proactive, friendly, supportive and commercially sound action?
Supporting employees with mental and physical health issues has been proven to:
- Reduce sickness and absence
- Generate higher staff productivity
- Increase staff retention levels
- Lower HR and recruitment costs
- Promote general wellbeing in the workplace
Think about how much it cost you to take on your last employee. Then consider that, according to The Equality and Human Rights Commission, it costs an average of just £75 to make a basic workplace adjustment.
Workplace adjustments can be as simple as:
- Making small changes to working hours (flexibility is easy with modern technology)
- Adjusting the physical environment (reserved parking, quiet areas, specialist equipment)
- Support with work (extra supervision, occasional sharing of workload)
- Additional support (mentors, coaches, mediation, etc.)
If you would like to discuss specific issues in your business or investigate potential workplaces adjustment solutions, just get in touch.