How to Support and Manage Employee Mental Health Right Now

11th February 2021

Unfortunately, January 2021 saw England put into yet another national lockdown. The third lockdown is what many are calling the toughest yet. Following a less than normal Christmas, combined with gloomy days and dark nights; many of us are feeling the knock-on effects on our mental wellbeing.

Naturally, feeling low has an impact on our workplace performance. When our days seem to have no work-life balance, it can be tough on our mental health. Supporting employees’ mental health has never been as important as it is right now. In light of Time To Talk Day which falls in February, it poses the perfect opportunity to look at how employees’ mental health can be better supported at this time. It’s important to remember that what worked for improving mental health in the first lockdown may not be as suitable right now. We’re all tired, and some of us are losing hope. Use the tips in this post to help your employees pull together, and support one another at this taxing time.

Advice for employers

1. Regular one to ones

Something we can’t stress enough is that the best way to be more open about mental health is to talk about it! Through regular one to ones and catch ups, you are able to gain a much better understanding of how your employees are feeling. It provides your employees with the opportunity to bring up any of their concerns and also enables you to bring up any signs you have noticed which may suggest something is wrong.

Catching up with your team isn’t just recommended for those who are currently working, but also any furloughed employees. Furloughed individuals may be facing different struggles such as a lack of job security and lowered self-esteem. Your employees will greatly appreciate the time being invested into their mental health, in turn helping to increase levels of job satisfaction. Not only this, but this practice will help you to better understand what measures can be put in place to benefit the wider workforce.

2. Keep the sense of team

We are almost a year into working from home and it is very easy to lose the feeling of being part of a team. From the lack of work socials, to general day-to-day fun in the workplace, team bonding has decreased. Some of the main reasons why workers are missing the office are due to office jokes (41%), colleagues (40%) and having company around them (35%). To help this, it is a good idea to schedule in regular team calls to keep everyone connected. Many of us are over zoom quizzes now, but having a 5-minute chat to simply share what everyone is having for tea helps to get everyone chatting, and build that sense of ‘togetherness’.

3. Be empathetic

As a leader within a workplace, it’s important to be empathetic towards employees’ feelings and current situations; not one person is going through the same experience at the moment. Some individuals may be struggling with loneliness, others may be balancing homeschooling and working, and you may have some workers who have been shielding and feeling anxious about a later return to work. Take the time to understand people’s worries and situations on an individual level, this is key to supporting your team through this difficult time. Remember that up until now, some employees may have been fine, but with lockdown number three hitting us hard more people may be struggling.

4. Mental health resources & training

Equip your team with the knowledge and resources they need in order to look after their mental wellbeing. You could do this by putting on virtual workshops, or providing a headspace subscription or online yoga classes; excellent for mindfulness and helping people to check in with themselves.

5. Encourage a healthy work-life balance

One of the most difficult things about lockdown for a lot of us is the lack of work-life balance. In a world before covid, if we’ve had a particularly good or bad work week, we could celebrate (or commiserate) with friends and family out and about. Now, however, especially for those working from home, there is no differentiation between home and work-life. This can make it difficult for employees to switch off, and enjoy their ‘free time’. Not only will this have a negative impact on their mental wellbeing, but also can make them feel less motivated and productive during their time at work.

As an employer, provide your employees with tips to help them better establish a work-life balance. This could be only working set hours, encouraging them to take regular breaks or lending them office furniture to ensure they have a good work set-up that’s separate from their living space. You could also offer employees some time each day, or week to do something they truly enjoy in the working day to boost their positivity.

6. Health and wellbeing program

You may choose to offer your staff professional support through a dedicated health and wellbeing program. Here at David Barber Occupational Health, our program covers both physical and mental health checks and support, to truly aid an individual’s wellbeing. This means that your employees will have higher job satisfaction, and are happier in and outside of the workplace; something that is hugely beneficial at this time. If you would like to find out more about our health and wellbeing programs, and how they can benefit your organisation, get in touch with our specialist occupational health team at David Barber today.

Advice for employees

If you’re an employee reading this and are looking for tips on how to improve your mental wellbeing, try some of the following tips:

  • Speak out to someone you trust if you need more support.
  • Get your body moving and get those endorphins flowing!
  • Work in chunks and take regular breaks where you need to.
  • Have a dedicated workspace, that where possible, isn’t your bed.
  • Get a good night’s sleep – it’s underrated.
  • Practice mindfulness through exercise, mediation or journaling.
  • Speak to friends and family regularly.
  • Most importantly, remember, this isn’t going to last forever.

We are here to support your business through COVID-19 with our dedicated occupational health services. If you have any questions about how we can support you or your employees during this time, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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