Recruitment, Mental Health
If you are getting ready to, or have already welcomed your employees back to work from furlough, you will have all the measures in place to protect your employee’s physical health during the coronavirus pandemic.
But what about the mental health of your employees?
The thought of returning to work from furlough, extended furlough working, and working full time from home during the coronavirus pandemic can cause anxiety and stress for many of your employees.
Equally, findings have shown that anxiety of UK workers has increased over the last year with stress and isolation of home working playing a part.
What is mental health?
The World Health Organisation's definition of mental health is “where each individual realises their own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to their community”
If you want to fully support the mental health of your recently furloughed employees and your employees who have been working from home, there are some steps you can take to make sure you are offering support for their mental health if they need it.
Why is mental health important right now?
Not only are we enduring a second national lockdown, but the days are also getting darker and colder. With added pressures and stress from work, home and personal life surrounding the pandemic, many could be struggling with mental health.
November is also National Men’s Health Awareness month. The office of national statistics shows that the suicide rate for men in England and Wales is at its highest than it has been in over 2 decades. According to the charity Movember, 70% of men say they can rely on their friends for help yet, only 48% actually do so.
It can be even harder to ask for support and help when working from home, so how can you support the mental health of all your employees?
Steps to support your employee mental health during Covid19 pandemic.
Keep in regular contact with your employees
A good place to start with knowing how your employees are getting on at home or in the office is by organising regular check-ins. These work better as face to face, so can either be conducted via video or in-person outdoors or in the workplace at a safe distance. These are great opportunities to ask your employee questions around their wellbeing and will help to alert you to any signs of poor mental health. You do not need to be a mental health expert, but it helps to know about poor wellbeing and how to handle a disclosure of mental health condition.
Review performance and workload
Whilst some employees are more productive working from home, others have struggled during the pandemic. The stress of isolated working, juggling childcare and work, and increased working hours have caused the lines of home and work to overlap negatively.
From your regular check-ins, you should identify these stresses and recognise that expectations of work may need to be adjusted. This includes adjusting objectives, workloads, and deadlines to make sure they are achievable and can aid productivity.
Promote good wellbeing
Get your senior leadership to set an example of good wellbeing, by sharing how they are looking after their own wellbeing during this challenging time. This will help to encourage other people in your work to take care of their mental health. Inspire independent or group wellbeing activities and share well-being and mental health messages. This will start the conversation around mental health and encourage people to seek help if they need it.
Connect your people
Working from home or coming back to work after furlough can seem isolating, but by connecting your employees together virtually through work-related or informal social meetings can encourage connections and social contact they may have been missing. But make sure that taking part should always be optional as you don’t want to overwhelm your employees and cause extra anxiety, everyone is different.
For your furloughed employees it can be hard to find purpose, but learning can boost wellbeing and create a structure for the day. Encourage work-related learning from home, ask your furloughed employees if there is anything they want to learn to progress their career. Suggest possible ideas or topics for learning but it should not be mandatory.
Some further education and sources around mental health and wellbeing.
The Mental Health Foundation
Managing Mental Health: Introductory module for managers, developed with Unum www.unum.co.uk/managing-mental-health-mhf
Be Mindful Online evidence-based Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy/Stress Reduction course available to individuals and businesses www.bemindfulonline.com
Time To Change - #timetotalk https://www.time-to-change.org.uk/sites/default/files/rightplace-non%202018champpack.pdf
Healthy Working Lives NHS resources for supporting health at work. www.healthyworkinglives.com
SeeMe at Work National anti-stigma programme co-delivered by the Mental Health Foundation and SAMH www.seemescotland.org/workplace/see-me-in-work
The Sanctus Mental Health Directory - A comprehensive guide to free and paid services to support mental health. https://sanctus.io/directory/
Direct helplines for support;
Call 116 123 or Email email@example.com - Available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, you can call Samaritans to talk about anything that is upsetting you
Campaign Against Living Miserably - https://lnkd.in/gC5P2u6
0800 58 58 58 or Webchat https://lnkd.in/dRpBR5e - Available between 5pm-midnight every day, CALM is leading a campaign against male suicide.
Shout UK - https://giveusashout.org/
Text the word 'SHOUT' to 85258 - Available 24/7, SHOUT is a free text-based service for anyone needing support.
Disclaimer: the guidance in this blog is provided for general information purposes and is not in any way legal or professional advice. You should consult a professional or legal advisor regarding employee mental health where appropriate.