As employees deal with more pressure than ever before—from navigating a global health crisis to juggling work-life balance in a reactive industry such as veterinary we need to consider as employers how we support mental health issues in our employees and how we get a balance between supporting the employee and managing expectations in line with Fair Work and Safework requirements.
As an employer or manager, we must familiarise ourselves with the code of practice for managing psychosocial hazards at work, an approved code of practice under section 274 of the Work Health and Safety Act (The WHS Act).
Since Covid, there has been a significant rise in Mental Health Issues in the workplace, and with veterinary practices already experiencing a high level of mental health issues in their teams, along with SafeWork’s guide around Psychosocial Hazards, it is even more imperative for Managers to be confident in their knowledge in how to manage these issues.
Does your workplace culture include regular check-ins?
It is important to create a culture of check-ins and a place where managers demonstrate and model healthy behaviour.
Ask yourself the following:
- As a practice owner or leader, am I aware of what constitutes a mental health issue?
- Do we have: clear policies and procedures, position descriptions, up-to-date contracts, employee handbook and Workplace Health & Safety information so our employees understand expectations in our practice and know the process if they need support?
- Do we have a clear mental health policy and discuss it with the team so everyone understands the signs and what to do?
- Do we understand what a flexible working arrangement is and how to put this in place in line with the requirements of Fair Work?
- Do our leaders understand how to have challenging conversations that may have a blend of underperformance and mental health issues?
- Do we have a well-being program?
- Do we offer an Employee Assistance Programme?
If the answer is no to any of the above, it may be time to look at your HR Foundation and upskill your managers and leaders to navigate mental health issues and support your processes to ensure compliance.