The Australian Childcare Alliance (ACA) has partnered with ChildHR to ensure that ACA members have the right tools for a compliant and sector consistent approach to managing HR. Through this partnership, ACA members are offered an exclusive deal which provides cost savings and the flexibility to choose the software features and documentation that best suit your service’s needs.
Mental Health is an area of growing concern in the workplace for both employers and their staff. We know that one in five Australians are taking time off work to manage a mental health problem, highlighting the need for action and greater support for employees in the workplace.
Here are 5 ways you can help with mental illness in your service:
1. Reduce Stresses in the Workplace
Working within the early learning sector presents numerous stresses due to being on your feet most of the day, juggling a number of conflicting tasks and meeting the expectations of multiple stakeholders.
Here are some ways to reduce stresses in your service:
- Ensure staff take their allocated breaks during the day
- Provide a soundproof area to separate staff from the children during scheduled breaks
- Roster enough staff to ensure the workload is manageable
- Prevent staff burnout by encouraging use of entitled annual leave
- Allow employees to take planned mental health days – this means shifts can be covered in advance and your employee receives peace of mind knowing there is a break on the horizon
2. Implement Clear Policies
The Disability Act of 1992 makes it illegal to discriminate against employees who have a mental health condition. However, many employees are not aware of this and fear that they may be discriminated against (90%) or even fired (78%) if they admit to a mental health problem.
It is important for you to outline clear policies to your team, making it clear what they are entitled to and more specifically giving employees peace of mind that you will support them when in need. Specifically include mental health days as one of the grounds for sick leave - it helps if managers and supervisors are not afraid to take a mental health day themselves.
3. Open Dialogue about Mental Health
Stigma surrounding mental illness is sadly still prevalent in society. It is your role as an employer to squash this stigma in your workplace creating a platform for open communication and trust regarding mental illness and work stresses.
Here are a few ways to facilitate this in your workplace:
- Have proactive conversations about mental health and encourage people to talk about their problems. Make sure these conversations are not limited to ‘R U Okay? Day’
- Have a transparent and fair complaint process for bullying and harassment
- Listen to employees on what they want and what would make their job easier
Providing a communication stream surrounding mental health is a great start to instilling a trusting and open work environment. For your employees to truly feel comfortable to share, it is crucial to ensure confidentiality surrounding any mental health issues.
Start by creating a separate room for meetings and confidential conversations. If a team member discloses any workplace stresses, personal issues or a mental health condition, make sure to keep it confidential and then discuss some potential solutions to lessen the load. For example, changes in shift times, provisions for medical appointments, lessening workload.
5. Education and Counselling
Providing support to employees who are experiencing a mental health illness is only as good as the tools you provide to the leaders on-hand to lend that support. Organise mental health awareness training for the leaders in your workplace and provide information to your whole team on taking care of themselves, getting enough sleep, mindfulness and meditation.
In addition to educating your team, it is important to offer a viable solution to those who need additional assistance. Provide access to free confidential counselling and also consider offering financial counselling as many of your employees may be living pay cheque to pay cheque.
How ChildHR Can Help
ChildHR is an online cloud-based HR software designed exclusively for the Education and Care Sector to help you meet legislative requirements, streamline staff management and save time.
The ChildHR software is designed to encourage ongoing performance management, providing you with the tools to have open dialogue and provide feedback - encouraging employees to speak up if they feel overwhelmed. Throughout this process all conversations can be recorded in the system which will help to reassure your employee that the resolutions discussed in your meetings will be implemented.
In addition, the ChildHR software streamlines administration, reducing stresses through a certification’s renewal tracker and easy application for personal and annual leave.
For more information about ChildHR and exclusive offers with your Australian Childcare Alliance membership go to www.childhr.org.au/ACA or email email@example.com.
PUBISHED: NOVEMBER 2019