Communicating a mental wellbeing strategy is vital as it shows you're committed to open communication based on trust and respect.
Also, if your people don't know about the policy, they can't benefit from it.
There are many ways you can communicate your policy. Some are formal, such as through written communications and during inductions. Others can be informal, such as by role modelling good behaviour and discussing mental wellbeing with employees.
Good communication needs to start well before the policy is even created.
Talk to people at the beginning, letting them know you’re developing a mental wellbeing policy – and why. Make sure everyone knows their input will be valued.
Listen and respond to people's opinions and suggestions, even if you can't take them all on. Open, two-way communication is important to demonstrate leadership's commitment to staff wellbeing and a positive organisational culture.
Preparing the way
Communicating the intention to improve workplace mental wellbeing is more likely to be positively received if there’s the following:
Management is on board – Senior managers are supportive. They truly believe the benefits and model them. Sharing their own experiences, including how they built resilience and learned to accept their own their strengths and weaknesses, shows mental wellbeing is a safe topic at work.
Genuine consultation – Let everyone know what's happening before writing the strategy. Tell them why it's happening, and that each person’s input is welcome.
Organisation-wide approach – Clearly state the benefits for employees individually and collectively.
Action is assured – You know management will put some strategies in place to action the policy (see the first point).
All views are valued – Everybody who contributes their time and opinions is seen as a valuable stakeholder, so commit to keep them in the loop.
Feedback – Everyone in the entire organisation hears what’s happening (not just those who have contributed their views). The resulting actions and planned timeframes are communicated immediately.
Ways to communicate
You might communicate your activities by:
distributing a copy of the mental wellbeing policy, for consultation and when it’s finalised
providing printed mental wellbeing resources in common areas
including mental wellbeing messages in staff communications
providing training and education that supports good mental wellbeing and managing mental illness, such as mindfulness
including information in employee induction packs and during recruitment
creating support material for managers and leaders.
Who can support you to create mental wellbeing
There are many ways workplaces can take action to create and support strong mental wellbeing. Below are some organisations to help you help your people.
WorkWell is a free, workplace wellbeing initiative that supports workplaces to ‘work better through wellbeing’. Developed by Toi Te Ora – Public Health Service, WorkWell can be adapted to any workplace and is available in various regions across New Zealand.
Auckland Regional Public Health Service
The Workplace Health and Wellbeing team at the Auckland Regional Public Health Service are able to give technical advice and guidance on health and wellbeing in the workplace. The team can support workplaces with best practice advice, tools and free programmes in the Auckland region.
The Mental Health Foundation provides a range of resources and links, including Open Minds and the Working Well handbook, and campaigns you can run within your workplace, such as Mental Health Awareness Week and Pink Shirt Day. Its information service can connect you with local services and help if you're supporting individual staff through distress.
Looking for alcohol and addiction services for your people? Try the alcohol and drug helpline.