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Better management for better mental health

11 October 2021

WORLD MENTAL Health Day was on 10 October and IOSH asked its website visitors and Instagram followers a single question: ‘What ONE thing at work could improve your mental wellbeing?’

With 270 anonymous responses, the biggest takeaway from the findings was the respondents’ emphasis on the impact better management at work would have on their mental wellbeing. This accounted for a total 37 percent of the responses, including the following ‘one thing’ wishes:

  • A more supportive management culture
    This featured calls for a more positive and supportive work culture, help with coping techniques, help on new tasks, proper chats rather than being referred to web links and managers treating workers as adults and with respect.
  • More and better management communications
    Specific comments included calls for managers to simply say ‘how are you?’ or even ‘hello’.
  • Managers to be more understanding
  • Better managed/more realistic workloads
  • Better leadership
  • A more manageable pace of work with realistic deadlines

Practical solutions for modern managers

The findings of our snap poll are consistent with research that suggests 69% of managers are not trained to recognise poor mental health in their employees. Organisations need to support managers with the training and skills to be able to recognise ways to positively impact mental wellbeing. Courses like IOSH’s Managing Occupational Health and Wellbeing can be a great way to improve health and wellbeing awareness across the organisation.

Further findings

The next big ‘ask’ to come out of the poll was the call for more opportunities to refresh and recharge from work tasks. This accounted for 18 percent of responses and included calls for:

  • More and better breaks
    Comments centred on negative management attitudes towards off-site lunch breaks, as well as wanting longer breaks and fewer working hours (which included calls for a 4-day week).
  • More opportunities to exercise and relax
    Comments included calls for walks, mindfulness and relaxation activities as well as more physical exercise.
  • The chance to have more fun!
    In addition to greater socialisation with colleagues, some respondents said they wanted the chance to have more of a laugh in the workplace – having a ‘Joke a Day’ platform was one suggestion.