Creating a mentally healthy workplace
LawCare offers practical advice for supporting mental health in the legal workplace.
The case for wellbeing
There is a strong proven business case for law firms to promote good physical and mental health for all staff – it leads to greater productivity, better morale, higher retention of valued and experienced staff, and reduced absence. Happier lawyers are better lawyers.
Tips for creating a mentally healthy workplace
The following practical steps can help you to foster better mental health in your workplace:
- Wellbeing is a leadership duty. Getting senior leaders on board sends a clear message that staff wellbeing matters.
- Training senior managers in leadership and mental health - making staff wellbeing part of their job role - is the best way to begin to change the culture of an organisation.
- Encourage sharing of stories from people within the firm or invite a speaker to talk to staff - lived experiences can help break down stigma.
- Use existing internal communications channels to talk about wellbeing.
- Encourage mental health champions – people at all levels talking openly about mental health.
- Encourage everyone to work sensible hours – staff take cues from how leaders behave. Take full lunch breaks, rest and recuperate after busy periods, avoid working at weekends, take annual leave entitlement. Make sure teams are well resourced in order to make this happen.
- Flexible working can support healthier and more productive ways of working for all staff. It can also prevent mental health problems from getting worse and can support a phased return to work after a period of absence.
- Managers should make themselves available for regular work-related conversations with employees.
- Embed mental health in inductions and training, staff will understand how mental health is managed and what support is available.
- Peer support can allow colleagues to support one another outside the line-management structure and offers a great way to maximise the range of skills and experience held within your firm.
- Mentoring and buddy schemes can help new staff to understand your firm faster and can support all staff to gain confidence and develop new skills.
- Ensure that colleagues feel able to admit any mistakes they have made.
- Encourage colleagues to treat each other with respect, say hello, say thank you, not raise their voice or threaten each other. Make sure there are clear and effective systems in place for reporting bullying.
LawCare provides a free confidential helpline for all branches of the legal profession 365 days a year. If you need to talk call the LawCare helpline on 1800 991 801. Additional information, resources and factsheets are available at www.lawcare.ie.
This article originally appeared in the January 2018 member eZine. To subscribe, visit eNewsletters.