There is no obligation for anyone to disclose that they have an impairment or health condition and there are many reasons why people choose not to. The charity, Mind, found that 1 in 5 employees would not disclose stress or mental health related issues to their manager, fearful about the disclosure’s potential impact on promotion or career opportunities.
Ensure all your line managers are trained to handle disclosures in a supportive manner, with warmth and openness. This will lead to more of your employees feeling comfortable to share their impairment or health condition with you, enabling you to make any reasonable adjustments early, ensuring your employees are empowered to contribute their best work. EDF Energy found they were losing £1.4M per year in productivity due to mental health related issues among their employees. By training 1,400 managers in the process of recognising stress and sign-posting the right support, EDF Energy increased productivity, saving £228,000 per year and improving job satisfaction from 36% to 68%.
Train your staff on the importance of being approachable and listening to staff when they ask for help. Catch-ups, supervisions and 1-to-1’s should be regular and not focussed solely on performance. Where there are capability concerns, address these early, with sensitivity and an open mind. Mind provides the following conversation checklist to help with discussions:
Avoid interruptions – switch off phones, ensure colleagues can’t walk in and interrupt.
Ask simple, open, non-judgemental questions.
Avoid judgemental or patronising responses.
Maintain good eye contact.
Listen actively and carefully.
Encourage the employee to talk.
Show empathy and understanding.
Be prepared for some silences and be patient.
Focus on the person, not the problem.
Avoid making assumptions or being prescriptive.
Follow up in writing, especially agreed actions or support.
On disclosure, employees may be concerned about who this information will be shared with; be clear about where this information is kept and who will be made aware of their disability and why.
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