The Covid-19 pandemic caught us all a bit by surprise and ended up fundamentally changing the way many of us work. It's been a really tricky year for a lot of people and has meant the importance of wellbeing for productive and happy staff is now firmly top of the agenda.
During this mental health awareness week, we have read that the number of employees reporting mental health worries is up 24% since May 2020*. The numerous lockdowns and worries about finances have driven these increases, particularly amongst the 18-34 age group.
Whilst working from home has been a pleasure for some (yay no commuting!), it's been a nightmare for others. Returning to the workplace will create more anxiety for many and you'll need to be sensitive to how that impacts your employees.
Have a mental health strategy
A strategy for your staff’s wellbeing has become a ‘must have’ for your business to succeed. Your staff will feel supported and more valued by a business that prioritises their mental health. Happy staff, happy people is what we all need right now.
If you’re just starting to figure out where to start with mental health in the workplace, we have ten tips to help guide you.
Create a ‘help-seeking’ culture which means creating an environment that supports open conversations about wellbeing. Encourage conversations around mental health and wellbeing and share ideas amongst your teams on how they can improve their own approach to it.
Ensure there are confidential ways of accessing support in place and everyone knows they have someone they can confide in and how to access it.
Establish a team of trained mental health first aiders to provide specialist support to your employees.
Be transparent and encourage openness to talking about struggles. Sharing your story, if you’ve had difficult times sends a strong message to others that it’s OK to talk.
Look out for changes in behaviour of staff or changes to attendance patterns or punctuality.
Address presenteeism - staff working overtime or whilst unwell has risen during the pandemic with people working from home. Managers need to take steps to address this as it is not a healthy habit and can lead to stress and unproductivity.
Keep up the morale of team with fun activities. Now that things are starting to open up again now may be a good time to do some team-based activities in person. Be mindful though of any staff who may be anxious about mixing in groups at the moment. And don’t forget staff who may still be on furlough.
Educate your staff around wellbeing and taking care of their health. Encourage healthy habits such as exercise breaks and healthy eating by setting an example. How about holding meetings whilst walking?
Do things differently. Sometimes thinking about doing things in a different way can help improve someone’s wellbeing. Get feedback on things people might be struggling with at work and together, work out how to make it easier.
Signpost where to get further help and keep talking about it in the workplace. People may need a reminder that it’s OK not to be OK.
Staff planning and rota management can play a really important role in your staff’s wellbeing and job satisfaction.
Do you plan your rotas around your staff? Do you encourage your staff to take holiday? Do you send out your rotas early? Do you send out rotas on time every time?
Streamlined and consistent processes are better for your people and can help relieve some of the stress and anxiety that comes with work. Above all else though, making the time now to open up and talk could safeguard the wellbeing of your people in the future.
Check out the Mental Health at Work website for lots more information.
*Notes: Close Brothers