Posted May 28, 2018
Employers are starting to truly feel the impact that mental health has on the workplace. With over 1 million Australian Adults living with depression and nearly 2 million having anxiety (and that only counts those who identify this in themselves) there is no doubt that at some stage you will have a staff member who suffers from either condition.
The hard fact is that the increased rate of mental health issues has increased rates of absenteeism, reduced productivity at work and increased the turnover of staff, all of which has a massive impact on your team, your workplace and your business.
There are some easy steps for salon owners to take to ensure that they manage their staff through depression and anxiety appropriately, without having a significant impact on your business.
First, work out if a staff member is suffering from anxiety or depression. Check for behavioural indicators of mental health issues, including withdrawal from social activities, rudeness, signs of stress and lack of sleep. Anxiety and depression can be both ongoing and triggered by individual incidents. If there is a marked change in a staff member, consider whether they might be having some kind of personal crisis, like a divorce or family issue, or whether there might be substance abuse or similar at play. Once you identify
It’s important to speak to your staff member on a one-to-one basis, recognise that they are going through something and help them to recognise their own behaviour. This is a difficult conversation but an important one, both on you as the steward of your staff but also legally. As an employer, you have a duty of care to ensure your staff are looked after. This extends beyond work, health and safety physical work environments and encompasses the mental health of employees as well. Speak to your staff and highlight incidents that are either out of character or not in compliance with how the salon is run or how a situation should be handled. It is also important to note that all meetings and actions should be recorded as notes for legal purposes.
If in doubt, it is always safer to go above and beyond if you think there may be an issue, rather than dismiss it out of fear that you will upset an employee. There is no risk to you or your business in taking the necessary steps to ensure that your employees are in good mental health – but there is risk in not taking them.
It’s important to always question and analyse how you have or will handle a case of anxiety or depression. Consider the following –
- Have we fairly considered the mental health of an employee?
- What was the cause of the misconduct?
- What caused the performance to deteriorate?
- Would we have approached the misconduct differently had we known the employee wasn’t mentally well?
- Do we have necessary medical evidence before a decision is made?
If all of the above bases are covered, then you are safe to move on to the next stage and move towards a reaction.
Ultimately, as a business owner, you must consider the impact that anxiety and depression in your staff will have on your business. Employers have an important role to play in ensuring that employees are supported to remain at or return to work and that those who are returning to the workplace after an incident or period of difficulty are treated to a smooth process, and that goes for the whole salon team too. Employers should also consider whether any changes to workplace practices or procedures that could help address any communication issues, such as clear guidance on expectations, responsibilities and deadlines, should be outlined in a Salon Policy and Procedures Manual. If a team member who is suffering from anxiety and depression is having a negative impact on your business and team, then there may be grounds for dismissal, depending on their actions (such as showing irrational or violent behaviour in the workplace). Call the office on 02 9221 9911 for clarification on this delicate issue.
While many employees can successfully manage their anxiety and depression without it impacting their work, some may need adjustments to the workplace or job to help them continue their role. Others may need time off, and while we appreciate that this incurs a cost for employees, it is important that flexibility is taken into account in these circumstances. There are many benefits to managing staff with depression and anxiety in the workplace rather than simply dismissing them, including retaining skills and experience, avoiding costs associated with retraining or hiring new employees and, above all, building a workplace culture that demonstrates to all employees that they are cared for and valued.
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