Don't Be Like Alf!
I would like you to introduce you to Alf. He knows what he knows, but he doesn't know what he doesn't know!
If I Don't Know About Any Harassment or Violence Within The Workplace THen I'm Not Liable or At Risk!
WRONG! Alf, you were at risk/liable the moment it happened. The only difference by knowing about it is that you can look at ways to reduce the risk of it happening again i.e. new policies, processes, communication etc. Increase the Psychological safety of your team and reducing the risk.
If an incident went to court, you would look more favourable if you could show active measures and/plans you are working on to reduce the risk than if you didn't (because you didn't know about it!).
We Have an EAP, That's being Proactive!
In our opinion, depending on how you are utilising it, it is mainly a reactive strategy.
This is because by the time most people call their EAP they are far down the rabbit hole and have been struggling for weeks if not months. This doesn't just impact them, but also everyone they work with (we all know what it's like to work with someone who is stressed, and we all know how productive we are in that space!)
Some studies show that only 7% of people take advantage of their EAP: Not a great ROI or positive impact on your employees.
Some suggestions to increase the uptake of your EAP are:
Talk about experiences you have had using them (we like setting KPI for the leaders in companies we work with, after all, how can they promote something with conviction if they have never used it themselves!)
Tell stories of when people should use the EAP - "Call them when you are looking at the rabbit hole to help prevent you from going down there"
Give examples of their services, don't just rattle the 'services' list of to them. "If you are struggling with paying your bills, they have financial counsel that can help and support you through that, so call them"
Probably most importantly, let them know that it is private and confidential and that you, the employer, will not know anything about their call or conversation.
At the end of the day, the earlier someone gets the help they need, the better and quicker outcomes they can get.
Professor Earl Miller, Neuroscientist: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
We are Doing Our Bit, We Have MHFA!
In our opinion, depending on how you are utilising it, it is mainly a reactive strategy too.
The majority of companies we communicate with don't do anything intentional with their MHFA, apart from telling the rest of the team who they are!
By doing this, they will be losing the skills they have learnt as they aren't putting them to use regularly. Also, people don't know what they don't know. The number of conversations we've had where people have identified they have a problem, only due to the fact that they have identified with a story or knowledge we've shared. Or realised that there was help available to them.
Some suggestions to move your MHFA from a reactive strategy to a proactive one are:
Build a Peer Support Group with your MHFA (this also help the 'who counsels the counsellor' situation)
Draw up a 12-month plan talking about MH, telling stories, connecting it to safety
Build-in initiatives for your MHFA to hold talks, create posters, get in an amongst the team to have casual conversations
Build a community within your team. Feeling supported, even if they don't ask for help can go along way to supporting their Mental Health.
What is Psychologically Safe Environments
Amy Edmondson, professor of leadership and management at Harvard Business School and the most prominent academic researcher in this field, defines psychological safety as “the shared belief among team members that the team is safe for interpersonal risk-taking” and explains that “team psychological safety involves but goes beyond interpersonal trust; it describes a team climate characterised by interpersonal trust and mutual respect in which people are comfortable being themselves”.
Simply put, you feel psychologically safe in your team if you feel at ease admitting mistakes, pointing out a mistake made by a team member, speaking about work-related matters without censoring yourself and trying out new things.
Studies have shown wide-ranging benefits, including increased confidence, creativity, trust and productivity.
A 2017 Gallup report found that organisations who increase psychological safety, make employees more engaged in their work and can lead to a 12% increase in productivity.