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The Mental Health at Work Commitment

Standard 2

Proactively ensure work design and organisational culture drive positive mental health outcomes

This standard contains five main actions:

Provide employees with good physical workplace conditions

Create opportunities for employees to feed back when work design, culture and conditions are driving poor mental health.

Address the impact that a range of activities have on employees, including organisational design and redesign, job design, recruitment, working patterns, email, ‘always-on’ culture, and work-related policies.

Give permission to have work-life balance and to work flexibly and agile.

Encourage openness during recruitment and throughout employment so appropriate support can be provided.

What’s expected of your people? And where, when and how are they expected to do it? Nobody’s work is just a set of actions in a vacuum; we’re all affected by what’s around us. We know that physical working conditions can make a big difference: from interactions between staff, the connection between hydration levels and concentration, to daylight, fresh air, diet and mood. And, when we consider that physical and mental health conditions can often go hand in hand, it’s clear that a holistic approach is the only way forward.

But other people are a key part of the work environment too. The messages that colleagues send, consciously or unconsciously, combine to produce the norms and expectations in a workplace. This is why work/life balance isn’t just an issue of rules and permissions. It’s important to signal, through our behaviours and the culture we create, that people aren’t expected to see their emails late at night. That it’s OK to have other things going on in your life, and that sometimes these will affect work. That annual leave, lunch breaks and flexible working hours are not only actively encouraged, but a core part of how your organisation thrives.

These overall considerations can add up to create an environment in which people feel supported to do their best work. And, when combined with a focus on mental health during the early stages of job design and the recruitment process, they mean coming to work can be a positive force for wellbeing.

The Mental Health at Work Commitment is a set of actions, organised into six standards, that any organisation can follow to improve and support the mental health of their people.