It’s easy to find ourselves preoccupied with personal matters, but while some can get back on track it isn’t always so easy for others. In some instances, poor mental health or illness may be the cause of unproductive employees.

Are you sure disciplinary is the right route to take?

As an employer, at one time or another, you may be faced with a drop in an employee’s performance. This may raise questions like:

  • Are they taking a long time to complete their tasks?
  • Do they persistently come into work late?
  • Does the person appear uninterested in their work or find it hard to concentrate?
  • Is their behaviour towards others unacceptable?

If the answer to a number of these is yes you may be tempted to take disciplinary action. But first, it is essential to consider why an employee’s concentration and performance could have dropped.

First, you should make the effort to find out whether this is purely performance-related or if there is an underlying issue connected to the employee’s mental health.

If you rush into disciplinary action or dismiss the person, you may breach the Equality Act 2010 and in turn, find yourself facing a disability discrimination claim.

More importantly, you don’t want to make life difficult for somebody who may need some help over discipline.

How to ensure low-performance is just low-performance

During the pandemic, the numbers of those suffering from depression have doubled in adults in the UK. It’s now more likely than ever that you will be faced with the complex situation of dealing with mental health issues in the workplace.

We’re not saying you should just let everybody off while their performance levels drop below satisfactory levels, you have a business to run! But while you must exercise caution, there is a right way to go about it. You’ll want to ensure no one is disciplined unfairly.

To start with you want to take 3 simple steps:

  1. Identify whether your employee has a potential mental health issue
  2. Decide whether the problem is down to mental health – or simply poor performance which you need to address through your normal procedure
  3. Manage the capability and disciplinary process sensitively, but by the book.

Mental Health Advisor

We have recently discovered Mental Health Advisor, an online resource dedicated to giving you the tools and information to help identify signs of mental ill-health in your organisation.

They are offering a free Mental Health & Disciplinary Toolkit to those who sign up for their free trial. With this, you’ll receive 20 tools to guide you in managing a poorly performing employee who may have a mental health issue. You’ll get:

  • Mental Ill Health Warning Signs Checklist
  • Mental Health Discussion Openers Checklist
  • Capability Procedure
  • Performance Improvement Checklist
  • Verbal and Written Warning Letters

There are many more tools available to you with your membership, and during the free trial you will even have access to extra support.

Mental Health Adviser Publication

This is a monthly publication that you will receive to help you meet your legal duty of care towards your employee’s mental health and wellbeing.

You will be kept up-to-date with the latest legislation and employment laws alongside advice and tips on how to implement this into your organisation.

Ask the Expert Email Helpdesk

Not to be confused with our own Hear it from the Experts features, this service allows you to email a query on any mental health & wellbeing issue you are facing. You’ll then receive advice from experts at Mental Health Advisor within 48 hours.

Online Resource Centre

Each month you will receive up-to-date documents written by occupational health experts. Access checklists, policies, procedures, risk assessments, sample letters and other templates that will save you time and give you complete peace of mind that you’re acting correctly.

Support your own mental health & wellbeing

We have some of our own tips and tricks for dealing with common issues people face on a day-to-day basis. Anxiety, stress, panic, the list of things we mentally fight against is longer than some people can deal with. Thanks to the isolation of lockdown, it is more important than ever to know how to deal with such issues.

Read our recent article from our Health & Wellbeing Coordinator, Annabelle, who gives her top tips for dealing with the current changes to the workplace many are facing and dealing with.