In the midst of another lockdown in the run up to Christmas, now more than ever it’s vital that employers are tuned in to how their employees are coping.
Symptoms of stress can appear physically, behaviourally, or cognitively via a noticeable dip in performance, but it can be hard to identify the signs, particularly from a distance.
There are a number of steps employers can consider to better support the mental wellbeing of their employees including decreasing stigma around feelings of loneliness, depression and even addiction.
Other top tips include:
Listen to your staff:
The first thing any organisation needs to do is listen to their staff and ensure they feel safe and supported. This is a stressful period and can leave many feeling mentally vulnerable. Taking the time to listen to individual feedback about ways of working day-to-day will not only ensure your team stays productive, but they’re positive too.
Be aware of excessive drinking:
Stress can be a significant a contributor to increased drinking so reports of increases during the pandemic aren’t surprising. Employers need to be aware of these shifts in behaviour and ensure employees know where to turn for support.
Encouraging open conversations about mental health, discussing the support available, and ensuring everyone has a healthy work-life balance and opportunities for development all help.
Consider mental health training to equip line managers with the skills to spot and support an employee who may be having difficulties. Clearly communicate the safety measures that have been introduced to make the workplace Covid-19 safe and ensure employees who are continuing to travel into the office understand the guidelines in place.
Share support resources:
Many employers provide an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) offering advice and support on a range of work and life issues. There may also be other mental health resources – for example, we provide specialist mental health support to employees when their employer has a Group income protection policy with us. Not all employees know these resources exist though, so again communication is key.
With many UK employees working remotely, it’s easy to overlook the value in taking regular breaks. Staying safe while taking time for some sort of daily exercise is important for physical and mental health.
What’s more, working remotely for long periods of time can lend itself to bad working habits. For example, late-night emails can make employees feel pressured and trigger for workplace stress and lead burnout. Leading by example is the best way to promote a healthy work/life balance throughout these difficult times.
About the author
Natalie Rogers is the HR Director for employee benefits provider, Unum. Natalie is responsible for driving and directing leading edge HR strategies that support Unum’s goal of attracting, developing and retaining high quality, customer-driven people.
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