How your recruitment process can play a positive role in your employees’ mental health


Recruiters in any industry need to be aware of just how prevalent mental health issues are in today’s workforce. It’s very likely that you will encounter candidates who are currently experiencing mental health problems or have done so in the past. It is therefore crucial that everyone who participates in the recruitment process is aware of your organisation’s mental health and wellness policies so that they can have a positive impact on each employee’s time working for your organisation.


Many job candidates are reporting that their current roles are negatively impacting their mental health. A recent survey conducted by Monster, suggests that as many as 1 in 3 candidates have experienced this and around half of these people have not sought help for reasons such as stigma or not knowing where to find help.


It is not surprising, therefore, that today’s candidates want to work for companies that not only support their careers and offer competitive salaries but that support their health and wellbeing too. This should start right from the recruitment process, ensuring candidates know that your organisation is a positive and open environment and that stigma plays no part in how your employees are treated.


Here are some tips for ensuring that your recruitment process is geared up for having a positive impact on your new recruits’ mental health and for setting them up for a long and happy relationship with their new employer.


  1. Ensure that your recruitment team is educated in mental health and wellness


First things first, ensure that everyone involved with recruitment and the wider HR team is properly educated when it comes to mental health and wellness. This includes knowing what the law says on mental health in the workplace and what your organisation’s mental health and wellness policies are. It also includes education into the mental health issues themselves and, in particular, how work can contribute to this. The stigma around mental health can often be due to a lack of understanding, so education is essential.


Once they are armed with a deeper understanding of mental health and wellness, your team will be better equipped to deal with any issues that may arise during and after the recruitment process. They will also be ready to answer any questions promptly and sensitively should they arise in an interview setting.


2. Keep candidates updated throughout the recruitment process


The job application process can be very stressful for candidates. Interviews can be high-pressure settings and there can be high stakes involved. There can be a lot of waiting around to hear back from recruiters which can create additional stress. Eliminate as much of the unnecessary stress as possible by keeping candidates informed of how the process is progressing. For example, respond promptly to any candidate queries and when you’re finishing up an interview, let the candidate know what the next steps are and when you will next get in touch with them.


3. Ensure that candidates are aware of your business’ mental health and wellness efforts and policies


Recruiters might not think that this is a top priority amongst the long list of things they want candidates to know about their company. However, it’s very important that candidates know that you take these things seriously. There are a number of ways you can promote these efforts. Take to social media and share what your organisation is doing with regards to mental health and wellness. Let them know about any perks your employees get that can have a positive impact on their mental health and wellness. Do you provide your employees with access to a gym? Do you provide free access to mindfulness apps?


If candidates know right from the get-go that your business is taking active steps towards creating a supportive environment for the mental health of its employees, they will have a better overall experience with the business. This might be just the sort of environment candidates are looking for, especially if they’ve had a negative experience with their previous working environment.


So, you’ve educated your team and you’ve let candidates know that your business prioritises the mental health and wellness of its staff. However, the work doesn’t stop once you’ve made the hire. You need to make sure that your business is following through on its promises.


4. Create a safe space for discussion and ensure that employees know where to get help


It can sometimes be very difficult for those suffering from them to talk about mental health problems. However, you’ll be much better placed to offer support if you know about the issues in the first place. Make sure that new staff know that there is someone they can talk to about such issues and that those people are properly equipped to deal with such issues.


Quite often, workers don’t get the help they need at work because they don’t know what support is available to them or how to access it. You might want to include this information in your welcome process for new staff. Perhaps include a section on mental health and wellness in your organisation’s welcome pack or employee handbook. Make sure that this information is readily available to current staff too.


You could also explore the option of setting up peer support and mentoring programmes to match up those who may be struggling with those who have lived experience of mental health problems. These mentors could provide invaluable advice and would be central to providing a supportive environment for your staff.


5. Promote a culture of wellness


Your organisation should value mental health and wellness as one of its core values in order to support a happy and healthy workforce. Your everyday working culture should be as mentally healthy as possible and move away from any toxic habits that can have a negative impact on your staff. This will help protect and even improve the mental health of your staff while supporting those who are experiencing problems.


You could make mental health tools available to your staff. These tools could be those that help employees practice mindfulness or access to exercise facilities. Gym and pool memberships are a popular option. Or, if you have on-site facilities, encourage your staff to use them. Keep the gym open before and after office hours and if you offer flexi-time, give staff the ability to extend their lunch break so that they can get a good workout in while still having time to shower and get in a good lunch. There are also some excellent mindfulness apps, such as Headspace, which you could provide memberships for.


It goes without saying that discrimination on the grounds of mental health should be seen as unacceptable throughout your organisation.


This is an ongoing process. Ensure that there are regular reviews of your mental health policies and listen to your staff on these matters. Regular anonymous surveys of your workforce will help you keep on top of this and will help you measure your progress.


6. Prioritise education


While your HR and recruitment teams may need a more thorough theoretical grounding in mental health and wellness, the rest of your staff need to be educated too. Education is a crucial step in battling the stigma surrounding mental health. You could provide your staff with workshops that aim to help them understand the issues and give them practical advice on how they can improve their own mental health and wellness.


If you don’t already offer them, line managers may welcome the opportunity to attend relevant training sessions so that they can manage their staff more effectively and compassionately. Those who are managing people with mental health issues will also need HR support.


Actively support mental health initiatives, such as Mental Health Awareness Week. This is run by the Mental Health Foundation which provides lots of information on mental health at work and is a fantastic opportunity to get everyone together to do a bit of fundraising and to offer some workshops to your staff.


A happy and healthy workforce will be much more productive in the long run. Creating a recruitment process that promotes good mental health and wellness from the start will help your organisation build that happy and healthy workforce. Providing staff with a good education on these issues is the foundation of creating a culture of wellness. From there, ensure that candidates know about your organisation’s mental health and wellness policies and initiatives and once you’ve made the hire, ensure that your organisation is delivering on its promises.