Mentally healthy workplaces make good business sense

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Today is R U OK? Day the national campaign for suicide prevention founded by the late Gavin Larkin in 2009.

The campaign calls for all Australians to take part by checking in with family, friends and workmates with the simple question: R U OK?

The day is particularly important for small business owners, who are anecdotally more at risk of suicidal ideation than the national average.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Small Business John Barilaro stressed the importance of R U OK? Day.

“RUOK Day is such an important initiative that encourages people to regularly reach to others by starting meaningful conversations,” Barilaro said.

“Operating a small business can be extremely challenging, and often places great stress on people and families.

“So if you see a small business owner who you think might be struggling, please connect with them and perhaps show your support by starting the conversation with R U OK,” he told Kochie’s Business Builders.

Promoting a positive healthy work culture is not only good for employees and business owners, it’s good for the nation as it minimises risks to employees and owners’ mental health.

According to a report commissioned by beyondblue, at any given time about one in five people in Australia is experiencing a mental health condition – most commonly anxiety and depression. Like any health condition, anxiety and depression can affect a person’s ability to work.

By developing a simple action plan, small business owners can provide the resources to implement better workplace health for themselves and their employees.

Every workplace is different, so it is about taking this knowledge and tailoring it to suit your work environment.

Headspace offers the following tips to help create a healthy workplace

  • Provide strong leadership that values employee contributions.
  • Ensure organisational structures are clear, and roles and responsibilities re ect actual work duties.
  • Create and implement effective policies and procedures.
  • Ensure safe and healthy working conditions.
  • Communicate with employees regularly about issues affecting them and the business.
  • Supervise staff and offer constructive feedback.
  • Provide comprehensive induction programs to help employees understand the business and their role in maintaining a mentally healthy workplace.
  • Encourage a workplace culture where employees support each other and diversity is valued.
  • Encourage autonomy/self-direction as appropriate.
  • Facilitate open communication when problems arise.
  • Offer flexible working arrangements.
  • Provide opportunities for staff training and practical assistance where required.
  • Encourage employee consultation and involvement in decision making.
  • Provide access to counselling services and/or specialist support groups.
  • In addition to these general goals, employers can implement specific strategies to address each risk factor.

Create an action plan online, tailored to your organisation’s size, industry, needs and goals. www.headsup.org.au/actionplan

R U OK Day takes place on September 14 annually. If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or mental health issues please seek help. Call Lifeline 131141. MensLineAustralia 1300 78 99 78.  Young People aged 12-25 seeking help can call Headspace 1800 650 890 

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What you need to know to stay healthy in small business

 

Cec is a media professional with over fifteen years experience as an editor and journalist on titles as diverse as SX, Better Pictures, Total Rock, fasterlouder, mynikonlife and Fantastic Living. She has spent the past four years working as a news journalist covering all the issues that matter in the political, health and LGBTIQ arena. She is the Senior Writer at Pinstripe Media and a recent convert to the world of small business.

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