Employers, managers and mental health awareness

In order to break the stigma around poor mental health and encourage great conversations about wellbeing in the workplace there is lots that responsible employers can do to support employees at work – after all, the average person spends 47% of their waking hours at work!

A big part of this could be ensuring good quality, respectful relationships whilst at work including open and trusting conversation about mental health with someone who is trained to listen. Whether between peers, or colleagues and their managers; good quality connections at work are only enhanced by great supportive managers who encourage communication and collaboration. When it comes to mental health, speaking openly with a manager or HR team really can make all the difference in someone’s performance especially if the conversation results in purposeful reasonable adjustments that enable someone to thrive at work.

Where employers or managers work in this way to create psychological safety in teams’ individuals are encouraged to speak up and reach out when they need support. Psychological safety exists when people feel comfortable and supported to be open and honest without fear or risk of humiliation or punishment. Creating a psychologically safe place in the workplace can often start with building a supportive culture of continuous development and managers who are well trained in having great people conversations.

Here are some ideas that you may want to facilitate as a manager or employer:

  • Arrange to train some of your people in Mental Health First Aid, or a workshop or webinar on Mental Health Awareness. There are many online providers or Stratton HR can facilitate.
  • Ensure your managers are well versed on what opportunities for support they can call on for themselves or anyone in their teams that may need it.
  • Organise a ‘Tea and Talk’ session, virtually or in person. (Including a useful list of conversation starters).

10 tips for onboarding new staff members

Onboarding is important to help new starters feel welcomed, acclimate to the new environment and enabling them to integrate seamlessly into the organisation and become effective contributors. In fact, a recent study has shown that employees that are engaged in their onboarding process are 69% more likely to stay with the company for a minimum of three years.

Historically, onboarding was done in the in-person, however due to recent technological advancements and the evolving ways of working, this isn’t always possible or the most effective approach. Here are our top tips to ensure a smooth onboarding process both in-person and virtually:

Be prepared

Organise their equipment, get them set up on the system, prepare written guides etc. ahead of their first day so that they can hit the ground running.

Meet the team

Create meet the team documents that brings roles and responsibilities of the team to life! Include fun facts about the individual and contact details. This will be useful if working remotely, but also to refer back to during their first few weeks in-person.

Share the vision

Allow new starters to get the feel for their new Company. Share mission, vision and values and bring to life by explaining how their role contributes. Talk about the future of the Company – get them excited and inspired.

Set expectations

Outline what is expected of them and when by. This gives them goals to work towards and transparency in what you will be looking for.

Encourage feedback

Provide lots of feedback – they will want to know how they are doing! But two way feedback is very important. Encourage feedback from them on how their first few weeks have been, what was done well, what could have been better etc.


Don’t forget about their wellbeing! New roles can be daunting and there is a lot to take in. Check-in, ensure they are managing ok and adjust approach/support if needed.

Daily 1:1s

Even if it is just ‘hello’, check-in on how they are doing and ask if there is anything further you can do to support. Remember, you are not ‘checking up’ on them – the purpose is regular catch-ups, not micromanagement.

Buddy system

Designate a ‘buddy’ – a colleague that they can go to for guidance if needed. Help them to feel welcome.

Don’t be afraid to over-communicate

It will be better for you to be able to take a step back once they are settled, than to have to step in due to poor performance, wellbeing or the threat of exit later down the line. It will also help them forge a trusting relationship with you, as their manager, quicker.

Put in the time!

Your new starter will greatly appreciate the time and effort you have put into the process. We guarantee that you will see a return on this investment of time with a more engaged and productive team member, that is more likely to stay with you!

Get the most out of virtual working

Virtual working and virtual teams are becoming increasingly popular and common-place. Extended flexible working rights, improved technology and social change have enabled employees to carry out their roles from home while still remaining linked to colleagues and office systems.  

Home working can be hugely beneficial to growing SMEs as it delays, or even removes, the need for larger premises. It can also be viewed as a real perk depending on circumstance and as such serves to engender loyalty and commitment from those that value the flexibility it delivers. But before you send all your staff home with their laptops, take the time to ensure that this way of working is going to deliver value not only for your people but for your business too. 

It’s not for everyone 

Not everyone is suited to working on their own without day-to-day management, and it is vital that employers consider this when recruiting. Here are a few pointers when considering individuals for virtual working: 

  • Unsurprisingly, self-motivation is the most important of all the skills required. The ability to switch from home to work mode, and organise and complete tasks without constant direction and feedback, is vital for anyone to work from home successfully.
  • Resourcefulness is really important as there is no one on hand to talk through every problem or issue as it occurs. Ensure you have confidence in their ability to problem-solve and make good decisions.
  • Working from home suits more introverted personality types who don’t need the companionship, discussion and energy that an office environment provides. Take the time to explore whether potential candidates are introverts or extroverts and which working environment they are best suited to and create that environment to allow them to thrive. You may end up with a hybrid model where you have some flexible office space to facilitate collaboration and team work when required as well as virtual working capability
  • You may think that good communication skills are important in an office environment but they are even more important when working as a virtual team. They will need to use their judgement on when to communicate and when to just get on with it. There is a balance strike. Virtual workers can have a tendency to just knuckle down and become very self-reliant and self-sufficient. Whilst these are positive traits, they can also at times lose sight of the value collaboration and consultation with team members can add. Watch out for virtual workers hiding behind the email rather than building productive working relationships with colleagues through verbal communication. Whilst being able to articulate non-verbally is critical, you will often get a better and quicker result if you just pick up the phone. 

It’s up to you to make it work 

Having got the right people working virtually it can be very easy to think of them as separate from any office-based staff, but this is where it can all go wrong. 

  • Location is irrelevant, your team are your team. And as a manager, it’s your job to ensure that’s how it works in reality. Just because you are not physically together doesn’t exclude you from exerting normal management disciplines and holding the team to account when it comes to delivery.
  • Get the right tech in place. Whether it’s the ability to video conference, print remotely or collaboratively review and edit documents, working from home should be as easy as working in the office.
  • Whatever the culture of your business, make sure it extends beyond the office to all employees. Ensure all staff know each other and new employees are introduced wherever they are based.
  • And make the effort to get together proactively on a reasonably regular basis. Don’t let splendid isolation set in.