By Dr Glenn Mason, Senior Clinical Lead and Counselling Psychologist at Onebright
People are the most important part of any business, and looking after their health and wellbeing is a top priority for most organisations – we know that a happy and healthy workforce is an engaged and productive one.
But protecting the mental health of employees requires a well-considered and inclusive strategy for the whole workforce, one that factors in the needs and requirements of all individuals to help and support them.
LGBTQ+ employees are more likely to experience mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, stress, and burnout in the workplace, and they are also more likely to say that their work environment has a negative impact on their mental health.
It is important that any individual feels safe and supported at work. Research indicates that if these principles are in place, it will lead to higher productivity and performance. However, we also know from research that LGBTQ+ employees are more likely to experience conflict and harassment in the workplace.
According to research by the Chartered Institute of Personal Development, 40% of LGBTQ+ employees have experienced workplace conflict and harassment compared with 29% of heterosexual and cisgender colleagues.
Inclusion policies and procedures are important to protect LGBTQ+ employees and help them feel safe and supported at work, but businesses should make sure that they are putting such initiatives into practice.
I’ve created the SAFE acronym to help business leaders, managers and HR professionals to implement policies and procedures to best support their employees.
The implementation of the right mental health strategy is important for any business if it is to effectively support all employees. It is often helpful to take these principles and develop an inclusive workplace strategy for LGBTQ+ employees. Take time to plan your strategy and how you can track and measure progress. Explore and celebrate what you already do well and identify where there is room for improvement. Think about the allocation of resources you need to implement your strategy effectively.
You may already do this internally within your organisation with your LGBTQ+ employees, which is important. However, organisations can think about how they can leverage this to advance LGBTQ+ equality within wider society too.
Developing LGBTQ+ networks can be helpful for LGBTQ+ employees to meet. Within these focus groups it can provide an opportunity to identify issues affecting your LGBTQ+ employees in the workplace and explore ways to change this.
It can be helpful for organisations to run training sessions in the workplace to educate other employees about LGBTQ+ issues. Clearly publicise the training throughout the organisation, with managers and leaders all taking part to show that the business is leading by example from the top.
As an employer, you’re in a unique position to help create and shape an inclusive, safe culture. The mental health of all employees is important to the success of your business, and these are just some of the initiatives you can put in place to support LGBTQ+ employees in the workplace. Lead by example, and remember to update your policies as you go, adapting to changing employee needs.