I can’t talk about what it is like to be a manager, I’ve never stuck at one job long enough to have the chance. I understand that there are many stresses associated with the role. However, I can talk about what it is like to be an employee with mental illness. These are the Do’s and Don’ts for a happy employee.
- Allow them to work in their own way
If they are able to get the job done and it doesn’t go against any rules or policies, you should allow people to work in a way that makes them comfortable. Just because you are not used to it doesn’t mean it isn’t efficient.
- Provide a safe space
I cannot remember how many times that I have had a personal conversation in front of other employees and even customers. It feels incredibly exposing to express your real feelings when you have an audience.
- Accept mental health sick days
Many employees, like myself will know what it is like to have to use the D&V excuse far too often. It seems that we’d rather label ourselves with an embarrassing food intolerance than risk losing our jobs because we can’t leave bed.
- Make the most of email systems
Sometimes, a mental illness can make it hard for us to be verbal about our needs. Being able to use emails or a text based service to contact the manger makes a crisis or problem easier to solve. As long as you allow the main concerns to be aired, you can always follow up with it in person.
- Listen and communicate
You know when you were taught about body language and communication skills? Use them! Make sure you actually listen to your employees, take their concerns or ideas on board and communicate with them. Empathy goes a long way in morale.
- Overwhelm your employee
Remember that even if a person does not have a mental illness, they are still human. We all have lives outside the office and we all carry baggage. It is unfair to unload so much work on one person, or pressure a person to work when they said they can’t. Learn to compromise and know the limits.
- Treat an employee different
If a person has an illness, it does not mean that they want the special treatment. While it is good to have things in place to support the disability, you don’t need to air them around like something shiny. Sometimes people just want to get on with their work hassle free.
- Play on weaknesses
I shouldn’t have to mention this one but I’ve seen it all to many times before. If a person is shy or anxious, it does not mean that you can treat them differently because you think they won’t comment or raise a concern. No employee is your lackey or punching bag.
- Mess around with rotas
Sometimes shifts need to be covered and changed, that is just the world of work. However, there is usually a protocol where you need to ask a person before you change their published rotas. Remember people have lives and work should not be their priority, don’t just change it last moment and expect them to turn up – trust me some managers do this.
- Play the victim
Because I just have this introverted aura, it is not hidden that I struggle with people and saying no. It had led to some situations where I have been guilt tripped into working seriously long weeks and doing more work than my role actually dictates. It’s not fair to prey on the quiet employees so you can get off easier, it’s okay to ask – WITHOUT PRESSURE.
Ultimately, it’s so important to make sure that an employee is valued and supported through their contract. An employee who’s mental health is being looked after, is a happy employee. If you want a higher moral in the office, start being there for your HUMAN employees.
Blog written by Charlotte Underwood. Charlotte is a 22 year old from Norfolk UK. She is a growing mental health advocate and writer with a passion for people and removing stigma. You can find out more about her here: www.charlotteunderwoodauthor.com