1. Home
  2. |
  3. Information Hub
  4. |
  5. News
  6. |
  7. How can employers better manage employee anxiety?

How can employers better manage employee anxiety?

Supporting staff with their mental health and wellbeing is a crucial part of an employer’s duty of care.

At the start of Mental Health Awareness Week 2023, Damian Kelly, head of Lodders’ Employment Law team explores what employers can do to support the mental wellbeing of their employees and help manage employee anxiety.

Employers have a duty to do all they reasonably can to support their employees’ health, safety, and welfare. Not only is it a legal obligation, but it also makes good business sense; a happy and healthy workforce and working environment has been strongly linked to better staff retention, productivity, and fewer absences.

Employee anxiety

With anxiety being one of the most common mental health problems we face, it is essential that employers show understanding and offer the right support to prevent it from becoming a problem for their staff.

According to research by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), 914,000 workers suffered from work-related stress, depression or anxiety in 2021/22, with 17 million working days lost due to work-related stress, depression or anxiety in the same period. The main factors cited by respondents as causing work-related stress were workload pressures, including tight deadlines, too much responsibility, and a lack of managerial support.

There are many simple steps employers can take to help support the mental health and wellbeing of their workforce. Everyone has different needs, so talking to each employee to identify what specific support they might need at work to make their day-to-day role more manageable is a good place to start.

Other workplace initiatives you could consider are:

  • Promoting healthy habits both in and outside of work, for example, introducing email curfews, sleep coaches, or an employee assistance programme offering counselling support
  • Providing training to line managers around mental wellbeing and how to talk to their team about mental health
  • Offering staff paid (or unpaid) time off to attend appointments
  • Also offering other time off, for example, any special leave, annual leave or unpaid leave
  • Exploring temporary changes to staff duties or working patterns 
  • Appointing mental health champions within the business that staff can go to with questions or concerns

Reasonable adjustments

An employer has a duty to make reasonable adjustments if an employee is placed at a substantial disadvantage because of their disability compared with someone who doesn’t share their disability.  This is to ensure the employee is not substantially disadvantaged in carrying out their work.

Disability is defined in the Equality Act as a “physical or mental impairment, and the impairment has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on a person’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.” Some people might not recognise their mental health condition as a disability, but it’s important that employers are aware that it could be.

If an employee is considered disabled (as above), it’s important for employers and employees to work together to find reasonable adjustments to assist them with carrying out their work. Whilst these adjustments are specific to each individual, they may include altering start and finish times; allowing homeworking, or providing a quiet or more comfortable space to work, for example, removing bright lighting above their workstation.

It is also worth implementing a clear mental wellbeing policy to avoid any disputes from staff.

Acas has recently released new guidance on reasonable adjustments for mental health here.

It is also crucial for employers to be aware that they have a duty to prevent any harassment, discrimination or victimisation in the workplace, otherwise they could be vicariously liable for the unlawful behaviour of an employee.

Wellbeing at Lodders

Here at Lodders, we offer a comprehensive mental wellbeing programme of support for our staff, with our mental health provision aiming to go above and beyond policies and procedures.

As well as championing a supportive and “open door” culture, we provide:

  • Professional support, including counselling and therapy services
  • An employee assistance programme
  • Mental health first aiders
  • Regular socials
  • Focused workshops, with recent topics including menopause and men’s health
  • Access to a wellbeing platform, Xerlife

In our recent wellbeing survey (April 2023) completed by four fifths of staff, 94% said Lodders is a supportive environment, 96% enjoy working at Lodders, and 100% said they had good relationships with their colleagues.

We are continuing our efforts this Mental Health Awareness Week, during which we are launching lunchtime anxiety awareness workshops to provide our staff with a good understanding of the causes and symptoms of anxiety and give them the tools they need to support themselves, their colleagues, and also their family members.

The theme for this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is anxiety. Find out more.

Contact us

Need more advice?

For help with a legal problem or more information on any of our services at Lodders, please get in touch with our friendly team. You can contact us via the number or email address below, or fill in the form and we will get back to you as quickly as we can.