Bosses should chat to staff and offer free YOGA classes to protect their mental health, guidelines suggest 

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  • Health chief wants companies to train managers to spot signs of employee stress
  • Public Health England and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence say action is needed to reduce mental health stigma at work
  • Their draft document has suggestions including offering flexible working hours
  • A 2020 Deloitte study estimates poor mental health among employees costs UK firms up to £45 billion a year

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Bosses should involve employees in small talk and offer them free yoga or meditation classes to protect their mental health at work, suggest official guidelines.

Health chiefs want companies of all sizes and all industries to train managers to watch for signs of stress and help affected workers.

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This could include offering them flexible hours or less challenging tasks, suggest Public Health England and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.

Their draft document, which is under consultation, says action is needed to reduce the stigma of mental health.

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It makes a number of recommendations that aim to help firms ‘create the right conditions’ to support mental wellbeing in the workplace.

This includes encouraging managers to ‘foster good relationships’ with employees, for example by socializing with them or making ‘small talk’.

Bosses should involve employees in small talk and offer them free yoga or meditation classes to protect their mental health at work, suggest official guidelines [Stock image]

Another says that all employees should be offered mindfulness, yoga or meditation, which can be given in a group or online. And the third recommendation calls for all line managers to undergo ‘mental health training’ so that they can see the signs in their employees and discuss their concerns sensitively.

The guideline committee consisted of mental health experts, employers, professionals from the NHS and local authorities and general members.

Their report says: ‘The committee recognized the importance of good relations between managers and employees and the importance of being able to contact managers to discuss any concerns that employees may have.’

The report comes after a 2020 study by Deloitte estimated that poor mental health among employees is costing UK firms up to £45 billion a year.

Dr Paul Crisp, Director of the Center for NICE Guidelines, said: ‘Giving managers the skills to discuss mental well-being improves the relationship between manager and employee so that they can recognize and reduce work stress .’

The report comes after a 2020 study by Deloitte estimated that poor mental health among employees cost UK firms up to £45 billion a year. [Stock image]

The report comes after a 2020 study by Deloitte estimated that poor mental health among employees cost UK firms up to £45 billion a year. [Stock image]

Emma Mamo, head of Workplace Wellbeing at the charity Mind, said some people’s mental health deteriorated during the pandemic, with redundancies, furloughs, and all factors involved in juggling and childcare.

She said: ‘It has never been more important to invest in the well being of employees and benefits the entire workforce.

‘Training alone is not enough to protect and promote employee well-being – it must be part of a much broader package of support for employees.

‘Many employers – especially smaller ones – feel they do not have the resources to invest in the well-being of employees, but the interventions do not need to be large or expensive.

‘Above all, we want to see all employers actively build a culture where employees of all levels can talk about their mental health and know that if they do, they will face stigma and discrimination. Will be met with support and understanding rather than experience.’

The Confederation of British Industry said: ‘Supporting employee well-being and mental health has been on the agenda of many businesses for some time and the global pandemic has accelerated this journey.

‘Of course, businesses can always do more but providing managers with the knowledge and skills needed to support their teams can only be beneficial in the long run.’

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