We’ve been thinking and talking a lot recently about the idea of duty of care for wellbeing and Mental Fitness in organisations.
Historically the term has been used in the context of an employer’s responsibilities in terms of Health and Safety where it is the employer’s job to spot potential hazards or safety issues and ensure that the correct protocols, resources and equipment is in place to remove or minimise risks.
But this in turn is a reciprocal relationship. It is the employee’s duty of care to themselves, colleagues, customers and the organisation to make sure they understand the protocols and safety rules and use the resources and equipment correctly.
In today’s working relationships the duty of care extends beyond the realms of health and safety to encompass far more, but we like this idea of reciprocity when it comes to thinking about Mental Fitness. When we broaden the scope of duty of care, and we continue to use the historic bounds of health and safety to model our thinking, we can start to think about how we might approach a duty of care for Mental Fitness.
It is, of course, an organisation’s duty of care to their employees to help ensure that they are protected against challenges to their Mental Fitness. Helping to minimise stress or to ensure that they can get support if they are experiencing burnout.
But this can feel a bit too much like seeing health and safety obligations as the provision of first aid kits. Great when things go wrong. Not so great at proactively making sure that the risks of anything going wrong are minimised in the first place.
So what would it look like if organisations developed a more reciprocal duty of care based model of Mental Fitness?
We believe the key is in creating an environment and culture that understands that Mental Fitness is a shared responsibility, of both employee and employer. The organisation’s duty of care is to provide access to services and resources that allow individuals to develop and strengthen their Mental Fitness. Whilst the role of employees is to develop a proactive approach to Mental Fitness, for themselves and for others.
Creating an organisation based around a mutual duty of care
Here are a few things that help create a ‘contract of care’ within the organisation:
With this shared and reciprocal approach to a duty of care, that includes Mental Fitness in its scope, we believe that we can all work towards a future of work that is more positive, based on a stronger relationship between employee and employer, with a more purpose driven organisational culture.
If you want to speak to someone within our Consulting team about how we might help you shape your wellbeing strategy to include Mental Fitness, get in touch with us today.