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#MentalHealthAwarenessWeek: 5 tips from Nucleus Commercial Finance’s Chirag Shah on how SME businesses can better support workplace mental health

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This article is featured as part of our week-long series looking at awareness and practical advice to support the Mental Health of those working across the financial services sector.

By Chirag Shah, Founder & CEO at Nucleus Commercial Finance

Against the backdrop of the cost-of-living crisis and fallout from the pandemic, it can be very easy for professional and personal pressures to build up and overwhelm us. While ensuring your own mental wellbeing is supported, it’s essential that SME business owners and team managers have proper structures in place at work to support staff – whether they’re in the office or hybrid working.

There’s lots of benefits from doing this. In fact, neglecting the mental wellbeing of your employees is likely to cost your business. UK employers have already lost billions of pounds due to employees either taking time off for sickness or being less productive due to their poor mental state1.

So, with Mental Health Awareness Week running 9th to 15th May 2022, an annual initiative providing an opportunity for the whole of the UK to focus on achieving good mental health – now is an opportune time to reassess the quality of your mental health workplace support.

With that in mind, Chirag Shah, CEO and Founder of Nucleus Commercial Finance has shared five suggestions to help SME businesses better support workplace mental health this year onwards:

  1. Ask questions: The first thing any business owner needs to understand is what exactly their staff needs in terms of support. Running an anonymous survey, or poll to get an idea on what’s working and where the gaps are will give you the best sense of where improvements can be made and what the individual needs are for each of your team members.
  • Communicate with your team and be clear on expectations: Whilst not everyone will feel comfortable with letting others know how they’re feeling, being open and honest with your team – even with your own expectations – can help build rapport and trust, as well as set some boundaries. Doing this will help encourage more teamwork, engagement, and productivity. You want your teams to feel comfortable discussing any problems they may be struggling with as well as understanding what is expected of them day-to-day.
  • Look for signs: It may be worth keeping an eye open for any signs of someone struggling at work. This can be exhaustion, disengagement, isolation, sensitivity to feedback and increased absenteeism. Helping colleagues to plan and organise their work can help avoid this, especially offering open dialogue that means they feel open to explain when their workload is too much.
  • Motivate your team: When people are running low on energy, it can be the helpful to remotivate them. This can be done in several ways from offering more workplace perks and benefits, flexible working hours, mental wellbeing training and resources as well as regular performance review and other incentives. Doing this demonstrates your commitment to your staff and will encourage them to work towards achievable goals and being successful at work much faster.
  • Navigate hybrid working: The pandemic opened the doors to a seismic shift in the way we approach work and introduced hybrid working for many. For those SME businesses able to continue offering remote working for 3 or 2 days a week, this is likely to be much appreciated by your staff who can keep on top of their work/life balance, without feeling overwhelmed or under time pressure. However, this isn’t a feasible option for all. For those businesses unable to maintain hybrid working, it’s crucial you instigate regular feedback sessions and open conversations about the readjustment to being back in the office full time. Offering core hours or more days for full team bonding is one option to try mitigate any feelings of resentment, burnout, or stress.

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