What can leaders do?
The high-profile nature of the menopause bill rejection opened employers’ eyes to consider how they can best support workers suffering from lesser-known health issues. Whilst there are no mandatory rules for employers to follow when it comes to supporting those affected by health issues, there are steps that can be taken to make work life more comfortable.
1. Educating employees
There are many long-term health issues, such as menopause, that carry lots of misconceptions. It’s often the case that there’s a deep lack of understanding for those who aren’t affected or yet to experience it. To help combat this, employers can introduce educational training sessions to management or even the wider team. Encouraging a healthy conversation around long-term illnesses will educate those who aren’t affected. It can also help those who will be affected to look out for symptoms and create a positive workplace culture.
2. Creating a comfortable workplace culture
Employers should always strive to create a comfortable physical environment for workers. Additionally this means working with the team to create a healthy conversation around health conditions. Physical factors, for example, being able to control the office temperature, and mental factors such as feeling comfortable speaking to managers or colleagues about health are of equal importance when considering employee comfort. Creating a comfortable working environment goes a lot further than just the physical space. It’s an approach that also needs to be reflected in the workplace culture.
3. Flexible working
Flexible working is becoming a more popular method of working for those focusing on a healthy work/life balance. This could mean remote working and flexible hours, allowing those with health conditions to take the time needed to attend appointments and rest. Flexibility within the workplace also allows people to prioritise their physical health and exercise during their free time.
4. Consistency from leaders
It is easy for things to be forgotten or slip down the priority list after a while. However the key to ensuring employees feel supported is staying consistent. Staff may feel as though an employer is not committed to the health of their employees should the support available appear to lack consistency. This also includes failing to or pushing back the implementation of support systems after they have been agreed.
Employee health has taken the spotlight in conversations regarding workplace culture and flexibility. This is especially evident since the recent rejection of the menopause bill. Although there are no strict guidelines to the support employers should offer, there are simple changes to be made internally to truly help employee mental and physical health.