Nine ways to manage your employees’ mental health

Acas has published new guidance and other resources for employees and employers on making reasonable adjustments for mental health in the workplace. The advice covers:

What reasonable adjustments for mental health are.

  • Examples of reasonable adjustments for mental health.
  • Requesting reasonable adjustments for mental health.
  • Responding to reasonable adjustments for mental health requests.
  • Managing employees with reasonable adjustments for mental health.
  • Reviewing policies with mental health in mind.

Here are nine ways to help:

1 Changing someone’s role and responsibilities

  • Review tasks or deadlines to help someone have a reasonable workload while managing their mental health.
  • Break down work into short-term tasks to reduce its complexity and to provide structure to the working day.
  • Review someone’s responsibilities to reduce those that are more stressful – for example, reducing phone calls or customer-facing work.
  • Move someone into a different role or department if their current job has a negative effect on their mental health.

2 Reviewing working relationships and communication styles

  • Make sure someone is working with trusted people to limit the effect of different working and communication styles
  • Agree a preferred communication method to help reduce anxiety – for example by avoiding spontaneous phone calls.

3 Changing the physical working environment

  • Allow someone to work from home to manage distractions or engage in activities that allow them to manage their mental health – for example, so they can take regular breaks without feeling other people are watching them.
  • Relocate someone’s workspace to a quieter area to reduce sensory demands.
  • Provide rest areas away from the main staff area to allow someone to rest away from social demands.
  • Provide reserved parking to reduce the stress of commuting.

4 Policy changes

  • Offer paid time off for someone to attend appointments in work time.
  • Be flexible with ‘trigger points’ for absence so that someone is not disadvantaged by taking time off when they are unwell.
  • Offer an extended phased return to support someone to build up hours gradually and continue their recovery.

5 Additional support

  • Modify supervision to provide regular check-ins, prioritising work and creating structure in the working day.
  • Provide training or coaching to build confidence in skills relevant to the job.
  • Provide a buddy or mentor to be a dedicated person who can support with work tasks.

6 Test and monitor the reasonable adjustments

It is useful to monitor reasonable adjustments once they are in place. You might sometimes find that reasonable adjustments:

  • take time to work well as new routines are established
  • need to be adapted to work effectively for everyone
  • do not resolve the initial problem and need to be reviewed

Monitor the reasonable adjustments using the approach agreed upon during the meeting and record of any changes made over time.

You can also use the template for reviewing and monitoring reasonable adjustments for mental health.

7 Consider the adjustments

  • What might be possible given the employee’s job?
  • How might these adjustments affect their ability to do the job satisfactorily?
  • How might these adjustments affect the rest of the team?
  • Could any risks to performance or others in the team be minimised?

8 Put in place ongoing support and a process to review the reasonable adjustments

Mental health problems can last for a few weeks, months or even longer. It’s important to have ongoing reviews of reasonable adjustments.

You might find it useful to arrange follow-up meetings to discuss how the work adjustments are working. These meetings might be weekly, monthly or less frequently depending on the situation.

Before the meeting it can be helpful:

  • to agree with your employee when and where the meeting will take place
  • to define how you and your employee will know if the reasonable adjustment is working
  • to agree what to do next if the reasonable adjustment is not working.

9 After adjusting

Reasonable adjustments might not work straight away. Allow some time for changes to work.

You should:

  • monitor how the adjustments are affecting the employee, others they work with and work priorities
  • review the reasonable adjustments as agreed
  • arrange regular check-ins with your employee.

Source: Acas – Reasonable adjustments for mental health