Speaking exclusively on MyBusiness Week, Ms Harman provided some key tips that small-business owners can use to check in with themselves and their employees.
She said business owners should keep an eye out for changes in demeanour or behaviour of any employees.
“It might be that the tone of emails or whether they’re routinely late for your catch-ups or how they’re actually interacting in the online space,” Ms Harman said.
“Those are really good indicators just as changes in body language or turning up for meetings in person are also good.
“But also similarly the speed at which someone responds to what’s normal for them. If that changes dramatically and you just feel like they’ve disengaged and checked out, that’s another really good sign.
“Also changes in attitudes towards work and changes in productivity, and just that sense of you know your people and you know when things change.”
Ms Harman advised business owners can stay on top of mental health in their workplace by setting up those regular one-on-one meetings with staff, especially those who they might be a little bit concerned about, and making sure that they’re checking in with them and actually asking the questions that sometimes can be hard.
She said overcoming that initial awkwardness simply involves just starting the conversation.
“One of the tricks that I use is, I often start by saying, ‘God, I’m having a terrible week! How is your week going? This is what’s going on for me.’”
Ms Harman also advised to make sure the conversation isn’t just about them.
“Actually lead the conversation and ask open-ended questions like, ‘Tell me about how you’re feeling right now? How are the working arrangements going for you? How’s that project going? Are you feeling like you’re able to cope with it?’”
The last thing, according to Ms Harman, is providing support.
“There are many pathways to support. There is your EAP if you have an EAP and I’m conscious that many people who will not have,” she said.
“There’s a range of resources out there. Sometimes it’s just a case of people [knowing] them and being connected.”
Beyond Blue recently released an online training course to assist small-business advisers in providing mental health support to business owners struggling through the coronavirus crisis.
Accessible on its Heads Up website, the course covers four key topic areas:
- An introduction to mental health and how to recognise when someone needs support
- How advisers can look after their own wellbeing in the workplace and at home
- How to have a conversation with a small-business owner you are worried about
- How advisers can proactively support small-business owners
If you are suffering from depression, anxiety or suicidal thoughts, or you’re worried about someone else and feel that urgent professional support is needed, contact your local doctor or one of the 24/7 crisis agencies below:
Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636
Lifeline: 13 11 14
Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467