How Businesses Can Normalise Mental Health in the Workplace Following COVID-19

13th April 2021

Everyone’s mental health has been impacted to some extent through the challenges of the last year. Recently, mental health in the workplace has been brought to the forefront of the conversation, and normalising mental health at work is a positive step in the right direction. We all know that mental health doesn’t stop during work hours, and whether employees are suffering from depression, anxiety or stress the past year hasn’t helped. From isolation and loneliness, financial concerns, grief, relationship problems, health concerns or work worries, the coronavirus has impacted us all.

As society begins to re-open and offices start allowing employees back, there comes a new set of challenges. Employers are understanding that mental health and life stresses affect employees’ work performance, absenteeism and productivity. Normalising mental health in the workplace is a topic that should be at the centre of workplace culture. With our routines now set to be disrupted once again as we adjust to the world reopening, many employees’ mental health will be affected, whether through anxiety about returning to the office or from stress surrounding juggling family life. Pre-covid, over 20% of employees had called in sick to work to avoid stress in the workplace, going forward it is important we tackle these issues at the source. With restrictions easing, it is vital to normalise mental health in the workplace in the most positive way. Read our tips below:

1. Flexibility in the work week

Gone are the days of the 9 till 5, 5 days a week office job. The stress of commuting, long hours, and poor flexibility are unnecessary for many people’s work and the pandemic has proved that we don’t need to be in the office 5 days a week. Going forward, a balanced approach to working hours and location are going to become the new norm. It is important to give flexibility to your employees to suit their mental health needs. Make the transition back to office life easy by keeping communication open and safety measures in place.

2. Open conversations

Creating an open culture around mental health in your office is extremely important, and to do this the conversations surrounding workplace mental health need to be brought to the forefront. This can be done through surveying staff to understand any common worries or anxieties they have about work and office life. It is also important to set the tone to allow open and honest conversations between employees and managers. This will encourage those experiencing mental health difficulties to talk about how they are feeling and will help to foster a culture of openness.

3. In-house support

Normalising mental health in the workplace is vital in helping employees feel better about themselves. More and more companies are investing in their in house mental health services as well external aid such as Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs). At DB Occupational Health we offer a Health and Wellbeing programme to employers. Part of our service involves introducing new ways to support your employees, from CBT therapies to EAPs to support your staff. By creating a solid wellbeing structure, you are helping support the transition back into the office, post-covid.

4. Educate employees

Education and awareness are key components of normalising mental health in the workplace. Helping those who are experiencing any symptoms to be able to recognise the signs will allow them to proactively seek out support and additional help. By educating your staff on mental health, you are also creating an honest and open culture surrounding the subject and are helping to start up the conversation.

5. Be proactive

Stress and anxiety in the workplace are common contributing factors to poor mental health. Waiting for people to come to you when they have an issue isn’t always the best idea, as it can be very hard for an individual to make the first move and tackle any issues quickly. By keeping communication open in weekly or bi-weekly catch-up meetings, organising mental health events and wellbeing days as well as offering educational and training sessions to employees you can help people feel better much more quickly. 

Post-covid, we need to all play a part in normalising mental health in the workplace more than ever. Get in touch with us today for information on how we can help your business. Or take a look at our covid-19 occupational health support service for businesses.

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