PROMOTING MENTAL HEALTH IN THE WORKPLACE

Mental health is a topic that has not been openly discussed both in our personal and work lives yet so many people are directly or indirectly affected by mental health struggles and/or disorders. To adequately address the importance of discussing mental health in your workplace, we must understand what it is. Mental health is defined as a state of well-being that gives an individual the capacity to cope with the pressures and stressors of everyday life. Great Mental Health enables a person to work productively, reach their full potential and become a ‘contributing’ member of society. Mental health, just like physical health and social well-being is an integral component of overall health that must be promoted and nurtured. October is depression and mental health awareness month and as it comes to an end we will discuss how employers can promote good mental health in the work place in this article.

LET’S TALK ABOUT IT

For the most part, mental health awareness is on the rise however we still live in a world where those who deal with mental health challenges still face discrimination and stigmatisation. This may in turn prevent them from speaking up and seeking the help the need due to shame and fear. In fact, shame and fear of discrimination are among the top reasons why people do not tell their employers and colleagues about their mental health state. It’s so important to encourage open conversations about mental health in the workplace and to foster a culture where people can be themselves. Understanding your employees – and their mental needs – enables your company to consistently adjust the road to achieving your set mission. So, make  it easier for people to speak up about their own mental health concerns without fear of judgment and discrimination.

OFFER SUPPORT

The importance and value of Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) cannot be stressed enough – we will stress it again. EAP’S come in handy in providing employees with mental health hurdles , space to maintain a good standard of work with the right support from the company. Employers can also promote overall mental health in the workplace by actively engaging with employees outside of the traditional work space. Organise activities like team building, dinners to   boost morale and give employees a break from the monotony of an office setting.

CREATE A POSITIVE WORK ENVIRONMENT

Unfortunately, in some cases the workplace can be toxic and the cause of mental health stressors for a lot of people. It’s important to create a workplace that is safe and positive and one that promotes the well-being of your employees. Happy employees have a positive attitude and are more optimistic about the company goals. Healthy employees are motivated and perform better at their jobs especially if they have a sense of fulfilment. No one wants to lose sleep on Sunday night dreading going to work on Monday morning. Create a company culture that values fun and group bonding by organising employee social gatherings which will promote friendship, collaboration and team spirit. A workplace where employees are at ease and have friendly interactions with each other are generally more conducive for mental health.

GO BEYOND YOUR LEGAL OBLIGATION

Every employer is bound by the obligations stated in the Employment Act 2012 which also states the rights of employees. These obligations include a duty to ensure that no employees are treated unfairly on the basis of race, sex, pregnancy, marital status, health status, ethnic or social origin, colour, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, dress, language or birth. Employers are also obligated to make reasonable adjustments in the workplace where an employee’s mental illness amounts to a disability and that there are adequate provisions for their welfare. Beyond this, employers can allow some flexibility in the work schedule to allow employees with existing mental illness adequate time to complete their work. Employers can also assess the risks that stress in the workplace can cause in regards to mental health and find solutions for these stressors.

Click the link below for contact information on mental health help in Kenya.

New Labour & Company Laws in Kenya 2021

The law does not exist in a vacuum; it exists solely to regulate human interaction within our societies. As society grows and populations diversify, the need to amend various laws arises to fit our changing needs. Our labour laws for instance are constantly being amended in order to reflect the demands of the current labour market and workforce. Amendments ensure the promotion and protection of both employers and employees’ rights. On 30th March 2021, President Uhuru Kenyatta signed into law the Employment (Amendment) Act, 2021. One of three Employment Amendment Bills introduced in 2019 and the only one currently passed into law. This Act was operationalised on 15th April 2021 following its gazettement through Kenya Gazette Supplement No. 53. In this article we’ll look at some of the newly enacted labour and company laws related to your Human Resources.

  1. THE PRE-ADOPTIVE LEAVE

Section 29A has been introduced to the Employment Act. This Section provides that in the event that a child is placed in the continuous care of a person who is an employee under the Employment Act, that employee is entitled to 1-month pre-adoptive leave with full pay.

Previously, qualification for the pre-adoptive leave was based on sex and marital status. In addition, the leave period was 3 months for married female employees and two weeks for married male employees. With the new amendment, both male and female employees are entitled to 1-month pre-adoptive leave regardless of one’s marital status.

In order to apply for this leave, an employee is required to notify their employer in writing, their intention to place a child in their custody at least 14 days before the placement of the child. This notice to the employer must be accompanied by the relevant documents including a custody agreement and an existing certificate from a registered adoption society.

An employee who takes pre-adoptive leave has a right to return to the job they held prior to the leave. This amendment is a progressive move in Kenya’s employment laws with respect to adoption.

  1. HYBRID & VIRUTAL MEETINGS

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Business Amendment Act now enables both private and public companies to hold virtual and hybrid meetings where their previous articles did not allow them to do so.

  1. NSSF, NHIF & NITA PAYMENTS

The National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF), the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) as well as the National Industrial Training Act have all been amended under the Amendment Act. The amendment harmonised the due date for the respective payroll deductions. Both the NHIF and NSSF deductions will now be due on the ninth day of every month while the Industrial Training contributions will be due on the ninth day of the month following the end of the financial year. The NSSF Act also now provides that in the event where a contribution has not been paid on or before the ninth day of the month, a five percent (5%) penalty of the respective contribution shall apply.

These amendments aim at increasing employer compliance with respect to payroll deductions.

https://www.lexgroupafrica.com/index.php/notices-publications/161-new-changes-to-the-kenyan-business-laws-here-s-what-you-need-to-know

DEALING WITH DIFFICULT EMPLOYEES

In the course of work duty, as an employer/ HR manager, you will inevitably run into a difficult employee or someone who is simply unproductive. This can be someone who fails to perform at the level that they are being compensated or a person who is constantly late and always has an excuse. This behaviour is simply unacceptable and should not be tolerated. Simply because they  will end up costing the company time and resources in an effort to make up for lost time and work that is not up to standard. Managing difficult employees can be a very sensitive issue and so you must find the best approach to handle the situation. In this article we’ll look at some of the ways in which you can begin dealing with difficult employees.

  1. TALK TO THEM

The best way to deal with a difficult employee is to promptly call a meeting with them and discuss their behaviour. Low productivity, missed deadlines and even missed hiring opportunities as a result of laziness, tardiness or inability to work with others eventually negatively impacts the company. Use this time to explain to them the cost of their behaviour and the impact it has on their colleagues as well as the company. When a difficult employee understands what is at stake they are then able to understand the need for a change in their behaviour and why a particular cause of action is taken.

  1. GET TO THE ROOT OF THE PROBLEM

No one, not even a difficult employee, wants to deal with the humiliation of being called out publicly which is why it’s best to schedule a private meeting with. This will enable them to talk freely about the issue without feeling observed. Sometimes an employee’s behaviour could be a result of various issues like poor mental health, family problems or even alcohol and substance abuse. Talking to them privately and opening up an avenue for them to talk about the issues that may be causing their poor work performance will help both parties find a solution. In many cases once the root of the problem is adressed the employee’s entire attitude shifts and they are back to being productive and get on well with their colleagues. This is why it is important for companies to have Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) to deal with such matters (see article on Employee Assistance Programs).

  1. SET EXPECTATIONS AND CONSEQUENCES

Once you’ve spoken to your employee, it is important to set expectations and consequences for failing to adhere to these expectations. Give a specific timeline by which the employee’s behaviour must change and be sure to give them adequate time to implement these changes. It is important to note that consequences do not mean threatening your employee with job termination if their behaviour does not change. You should however, ensure that your employee is aware of the repercussions that they could face if they do not change in the agreed upon time. These consequences could be in the form of a formal warning letter, a demotion or dismissal as a last resort.

  1. FOLLOW UP ON PROGRESS

While your employee is working towards improving their behaviour, ensure that you check up on their progress regularly. This will hold them accountable and help them stay on track. Be sure to document each problem you have with an employee, the disciplinary measures taken as well as the resources you connected them with in order to help them improve. This is important because in some cases an employee’s behaviour might lead to the filing of legal action and this documentation will be useful.

  1. RECOGNISE A HOPLESS CASE

In some cases, an employee will simply not be able to comply with the company’s code of conduct despite your best efforts. No employer wants to fire their employees however in some cases contract termination is the best and only option. Not everyone is capable of change and keeping a difficult/ disruptive employee will only serve to hurt the company in the long run. If you have gone through the company disciplinary process in order to find a solution and even carried out an intervention then it may be time to cut your losses and let the employee go.  

https://www.forbes.com/sites/erikaandersen/2013/11/21/9-ways-to-deal-with-difficult-employees/

EMPLOYEE RELATIONS

Employee relations is the process of managing the relationship between employees and the organisation as well as the relationship among employees. in order for employees to be productive and perform at their best, the need to have a safe and conducive environment. A key aspect of this conducive work environment is the relationship the employees have with each other. When employees have a good working relationship, they are more productive as this promotes communication, collaboration and cooperation among them. In today’s article we’ll look at why employee relations are important in the workplace.

  • HAPPY EMPLOYEES MAKE A HAPPY ORGANISATION

The happier your employees are, the more productive they will be. It has been proven that the most successful companies know how to manage their employee relationships in order to maximise on their satisfaction and ensure employee retention. When employees are happy in their workplace, they work harder to ensure the company as a whole succeeds. There are a number of ways an organisation can ensure that their employees are happy. Employers can show their appreciation work well done and rewording exceptional performance. The company can also organise team building trips to build and improve the relationships among employees.

  • DISCOURAGE CONFLICT

In most cases, conflict is something we all try to avoid especially so in the workplace. It is important to note however that sometimes disagreements may arise due to the presence of diverse individual opinions and work strategies. Sometimes, this conflict may be productive as it may lead to new ideas effective problem solving skills and also provides an opportunity to explore and expand their creativity. Employees who relate well with each other are able to explore their opposing ideas in a civil manner which in turn fosters innovation.

  • EMPLOYEE EMPOWERMENT

The positive relations among employees provides a great social circle and also opens up avenues for the company’s success. When employees are able to openly connect with each other and network, they are able to grow separately from the company and this may then provide them with the tools they need to venture into new individual projects. When employees know that they can count on the support of their colleagues, they are more likely to work towards the success of the company because it ensures that everyone will succeed. companies can also empower their employees by allowing them to take part in certain decisions that affect them and providing learning opportunities that will enable them to achieve their career goals.

  • REDUCES THE WORKLOAD

Research has shown that one of the leading causes of burnout is work overload and many employees experience this at least once over the course of their careers. A company with positive employee relations is able to identify the top performers and split different workloads among them. When everyone is on the same page, and working together to achieve a common goal, tasks become manageable and less daunting.

  • REDUCED EMPLOYEE TURNOVER

Employee turnover refers to the gradual loss of talented employees in a company. High employee turnover rates can negatively impact an organisation as it puts a strain on the company’s resources and remaining employees as the increased workload fall on them. When employees feel valued, they will utilise their skills to ensure the success of the company. a company with good employee relations will have attractive benefits and wages that encourage employees to stay on. Employees who are satisfied with their work environment are less likely to quit.

https://www.managementstudyguide.com/importance-of-employee-relations.htm
https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/why-employee-relations-important-organization-sampurna-majumder
DISMANTLING THE GLASS CEILING

The concept of the ‘Glass Ceiling’ refers to the socially constructed barrier that aims at preventing women and people from minority groups from advancing in their professional lives. The term was first coined in the 1980s when women pushed for equal pay and opportunity in the work place in a bid to fight gender based discrimination. Although we have come a relatively long way in the pursuit of gender equality, in the workplace there’s still need for improvement. The glass ceiling has various negative effects such as gender role stereotyping where women are not considered for leadership positions due to overly traditional ideas on strength and ability. Further, the glass ceiling often leads to sexual harassment, gender bias and serious psychological conditions for its victims . In this article we’ll look at some of the ways you can begin dismantling the glass ceiling in your workplace.

  1. RECRUITING & HIRING BASED ON MERIT

Those in charge of hiring as well as key decision makers must make an effort to ensure that they hire employees based on their talent and merit rather than their own personal bias. This means that they must level the playing field and broaden their viewpoints in order to make accurate hiring decisions. In this way, the company also excels as the best employees are using their skills to ensure success.

  1. ZERO-TOLERANCE POLICIES

Ensure that all employees are treated equally and that all rules and regulations are applied equally. The Constitution of Kenya prohibits discrimination either directly or indirectly against any person on the basis of race, sex, pregnancy, marital status, health status, ethnic or social origin, colour, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, dress, language or birth. There should be no room for bigotry and discrimination in the workplace as this would be in direct contravention of the Constitution which is an offence.

  1. DISCUSS GENDER ISSUES IN THE WORKPLACE

Working in a diverse workplace also means that there are members from different generations working together. Generational gaps sometimes prove difficult when navigating sensitive issues like gender discrimination. Provide room for your employees to discuss topics such as consent, sexual discrimination and harassment as well as other gender related topics. Creating awareness about these issues is the best way to involve everyone in the discussion and to find workable solutions for your company. This can also help reduce gender based discrimination and to promote collaboration and equity among employees.

  1. TAKE REPORTS SERIOUSLY.

Many times victims of gender based violence and discrimination in the workplace rarely come forward and when they do, they face increased harassment and in some instances lose their jobs. Employers and HR managers must investigate every report received with critical consideration and awareness on how these issues typically manifest and escalate. It is important to handle these issues tactfully and with the utmost professionalism in order to ensure that victims feel safe to come forward. Hold those responsible accountable and weed out predators and disruptive employees from the company.

  1. KNOW WHEN TO LEAVE

As an employee, sometimes you can only do so much. Should you find yourself in a situation where your voice is not being heard and the company refuses to take action; take the reins and find career opportunities elsewhere. Find job opportunities that align with your values and career goals and move on. Seek help and support from like-minded individuals and network in order to support each other’s professional goals.

IMPROVING YOUR EMPLOYER BRANDING

The term ‘employer brand’ refers to an organization’s reputation as an employer, how it presents itself to potential employees and employees as well. Employer brand differs from the general corporate brand reputation that is often targeted towards customers. Employer branding deals with the attraction, retention and engagement strategies that enhance a company’s appeal to employees. Simply put, employer brand management addresses the reality of the employment experience. This enables companies to find the best talent in order to achieve their goals and effectively engage these employees to maximise their retention. In this article we’ll look at some employer branding strategies that you can use to boost your company’s reputation.

  1. DEFINE COMPANY GOALS & OBJECTIVES

Organizational goals inform employees the direction in which the organisation is headed and how it will get there. Employees can then assess whether these goals align with their career development and if they would want to work for your company. Employees are more enthusiastic when they know exactly what is required of them and the rewards available for meeting and/ exceeding the company’s expectations. This also makes it easier for employees to contribute to company growth and for managers to do their jobs effectively in order to improve productivity. Objectives are also key in establishing standards of employee evaluation as they act as yard sticks to identify the success and failures of the organisation and its employees.

  1. HIGHLIGHT YOUR EVP

Whether you’re hiring one employee or 100, you have to be able to answer the question, “why should I work for you?” An Employee Value Proposition (EVP) is essentially the “why” around your organisation. It is what attracts and attracts your top talent and what you as an organisation promise to your employees. Your EVP outlines how your company sets itself apart from competitors. Many top ranking companies take time to come up with the best EVPs because this is the foundation of a company’s employer branding and attracts the best talent.

  1. BUILD YOUR MARKETING GAME

Jeff Bezos, founder and executive manager of Amazon once said that “A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person.” And this sentiment is entirely true because a business is only as good as its reputation. It is therefore important to get the word out about your company as this helps to build and maintain your company’s reputation. Marketing will provide insight about your company that will attract potential employees. Invest in a good marketing team that will enable you to reach your target audience and inform potential employees on the benefits of working for your company.

  1. DEVELOP A RECRUITMENT PLAN

Your employees can either make or break your company and this is why it is important to hire the best. Knowing your company needs, will enable you to conduct proper interviews and find the right people for the job. Begin by defining the role these employees will play in your company and what your expectations are as well as the ideal person for this role. A good recruitment plan will result in a successful hiring process.

  1. WORK ON YOUR EMPLOYEE RETENTION

Companies that are known for having high employee retention often attract the best talent. Having a high retention rate means that a company is able to keep its employees long-term. This results in less time and resources spent on recruiting and training new employees. Employees that have had a long working relationship with their company are more loyal and committed. Retaining valuable employees is important because vital company knowledge that would otherwise be lost to competitors is maintained. Find ways to keep valuable employees happy through company rewards and benefits and recognition and appreciation for work well done.

https://builtin.com/employer-branding/employer-branding-strategy

https://blog.smarp.com/employer-branding-9-steps-to-build-successful-strategy

https://beamery.com/resources/blogs/employer-branding-definition-process-strategy-and-resources

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