Time to Talk Day is just around the corner (3rd of February to be exact), and as an employer it is worth taking the time to understand what this means. While it is linked to mental health, Time to Talk Day’s emphasis is on that first step – the act of talking. Other days might be about specific illnesses – like national schizophrenia day – or specific activities – like random acts of kindness. But what Time to Talk Day achieves is that balance between broad appeal, and tangible, simple action.
At its core, Time to Talk Day is all about open and honest conversation. Yes, there is a centring of mental health, but really Time to Talk Day could be about anything. Struggling with finances? Talk about it. Starting to burn out at work? Talk about it. Having a tough time moving house? Talk about it. There is an instinct to bottle up a lot of our emotions, issues and problems, and what Time to Talk Day is all about releasing these in a space that is safe, encouraging and supportive.
But how does this relate to you, the employer? Well, adults spend about 30% of their waking lives in the workplace – be that sitting in an office, standing at the front of a classroom, or driving a lorry. As such, there is a responsibility on behalf of employers to make sure that their staff feel supported when it comes to their wellbeing. There is plenty that you can do. From organising tea and talk events, where employees can come together and chat about their issues, to virtual Time to Talk Day events and mental health awareness training. We find that most successful events are ones that are set up by employers, but are ultimately employee driven. Unfortunately, the stigma around mental health means that, in general, employees do not feel particularly comfortable sharing personal issues with employers, but are much more comfortable sharing with peers or an independent third party.
What this also underscores is the need for a broader mental health strategy – outside of just Time to Talk Day. The pandemic has changed the mental health landscape across society in a very profound way, emphasising the widespread need for effective and compassionate support. An employee assistance programme, delivered by an independent third party supplier, is the perfect tool when it comes to maintaining staff wellbeing without compromising on productivity. If you have not already done so, it is up to you as an employer to take preventative and proactive action to maintain your employees’ healthy mental wellbeing. The reward for getting this right is a happier, healthier and more productive workforce, and a more successful organisation.