The importance of effective line management support in creating mentally healthy workplaces

Andrew Berrie
Andrew Berrie

Head of Workplace Wellbeing, Mind

There has been a long-standing understanding of the important role line managers play in supporting their teams. At a basic level it makes sense that line managers​Quick tips for line managers PDF The coronavirus pandemic has changed how many of us work, with more people than ever working from home away from the rest of our teams. The Charlie Waller Trust have compiled this short page of tips to help you protect your remote employees' mental wellbeing.Free By: Charlie Waller View resource are going to play a key role in employee mental health, where they likely have the greatest face time with the member of staff, are responsible for team workloads and prioritisation and the first port of call for team members seeking to access support or engage in conversations around workplace adjustments.

The World Health Organisation’s recommendations for employers published last year drew attention to the importance of managers, suggesting they are in a strong position to create positive change for their reports.

Trained managers were found to be linked to staff feeling confident

The WHO researchers found evidence to suggest that training managers​People managers’ guide to mental health PDF For employees to stay well and in work, it's vital for them to be able to talk to managers about stress and mental health. This guide has practical advice, information and templates to support managers and employers to facilitate this.Free By: CIPD View resource around spotting the signs of mental health and support routes helps to increase their confidence and improve attitudes around mental health within the workplace. Trained managers also were found to be linked to staff feeling confident in seeking the wellbeing support they might need.

Colleagues smiling during a meeting.

However, new research published by Mind has demonstrated the significant impact supportive line managers can have with respondents who feel their line manager supports their mental health more than twice as likely to report good mental health than those who do not (62% against 29%) and respondents who characterise their working relationships with their line manager as effective more than three times as likely to report feeling generally happy at work over the last month (70% against 18%).

It’s a continual process

In advance of chairing a panel on the role of line managers in supporting their teams at The Watercooler in April 2023, Andrew Berrie, Head of Workplace Wellbeing at Mind spoke with Khushboo Patel, Head of Engagement and Inclusion at Metro Bank about what Mind’s findings mean for business and how Metro Bank is supporting their people thrive at work.

Building confidence

Mind’s 2021/2022 Workplace Wellbeing Index​Mind’s workplace wellbeing index Web page Mind's Workplace Wellbeing Index is a benchmark of best practice and policy. It will highlight what your organisation is doing well, how you compare to others, and how you could improve in your approach to mental health at work.Paid for By: Mind View resource showed line managers had less confidence in their abilities to support and promote mental health on previous years with 6% fewer line managers reporting that their employer had built their skills in supporting a line report.

How does Metro Bank look to build confidence in their people managers to provide support to their teams?

Our Metro Bank AMAZEING behaviours underpin our leadership style to provide support and build confidence:

  • Attend to every detail
  • Make every wrong right
  • Ask if you’re not sure – bump it up!
  • Zest is contagious – share it!
  • Exceed expectations
  • Inspire colleagues to create fans
  • Nurture colleagues so they grow
  • Game change because this is a revolution

It’s a continual process and at Metro Bank we are building training for skills to lead colleague wellbeing that is centred on the concept of compassionate leadership with focus on listening, understanding, empathy and support.

Colleagues enjoy some fresh air together.

Being person-centred in approach

The Mind Workplace Wellbeing Index demonstrated a decline in the perceptions of line manager support with the number of employees reporting their manager supported their mental health falling by 2.7%. This decline was particularly prominent amongst specific employee communities including LGBTQ+ employees.

How important is a person-centred approach to providing support and what does Metro Bank do to support such an approach that ensures relevance to a wide range of employees?

We know where to place this support by listening to our colleagues

A person-centred approach is extremely important. We’re moving away from equality and more into equity; making sure an individual has everything they need to reach the same level of success as someone who may not need accommodations, and to do this takes time and far more thought than a one size fits all approach, but the result is far more effective.

At Metro Bank we know where to place this support by listening to our colleagues, whether it’s through our engagement survey or through our inclusion networks​St Mungo’s Diversity Networks PDF Networks are a great way of connecting staff who have similar experiences and backgrounds. At St Mungo's, there are several different groups offering support and advice.Free By: St Mungo’s View resource – we listen so that we can act in the right areas.

Employees in a strategy meeting.

Culture and addressing mental health stigma

Many organisations appear to be experiencing ‘wellbeing fatigue’, with mental health and wellbeing beginning to make fewer appearances on strategic agendas. Already, fewer employees are disclosing mental health problems to their employers and fewer are being honest when mental health has been a reason for absence when compared to last year.

What role do managers play in addressing mental health stigma and creating mentally healthy, safe spaces for team members?

There is a plethora of research that show the benefits of supporting colleague wellbeing and mental health, and ultimately how this enables colleagues to be their best selves. At Metro Bank, our colleagues are at the heart of what we do; we’re a purpose led community bank, and we cannot reach our ambition to be the UK’s No.1 community bank without making sure our colleagues thrive. For us it’s the right thing to do, and it’s the right business decision to make – our colleagues are the secret to our success.

We encourage our leaders to lead from the front

Line managers play a crucial role; they guide the colleague experience, and they are the key enabler for wellbeing to be delivered effectively. At Metro Bank, we encourage our leaders to lead from the front, to role model sound wellbeing and encourage colleagues to do the same, and this year we are going to launch our wellbeing strategy to support this even further.

The strategy will be built upon the environment of compassion and psychological safety we’ve built at Metro Bank; you can’t have the tools to support wellbeing without creating the environment in which to use them.

A team of four gather to look at a teammate's screen

Mind will chair a panel discussion on Supporting line managers to support their teams and manage their own mental health at The Watercooler, being hosted at the Excel London on the 25 and 26 April 2023. Registration is free for all professionals with a workplace culture and wellbeing remit. You can book your ticket online by visiting The Watercooler website.

About this website

Your guide to mental health at work

Whether you work with 10 people, 10,000 people or just yourself, paying attention to mental health in the workplace has never been more important.

Find out more

The Mental Health at Work website will close on 30 June 2024.

If there any of our toolkits, stories and resources that you may want to refer to later, we recommend you download them now.

The Mental Health at Work Commitment, the Interactive Guide and some key supporting content will move to Mind’s website after this date.

Find out more in our FAQs