Over the past weeks, we have all had to adjust to a new normal; one that would have been alien only two months ago. How can employers be confident about how to best support the mental health of employees’?
1. Communicate, and then communicate some more Stay in touch however you can. Many Companies are turning to technology to do this -Mobile messaging groups like WhatsApp, virtual meetings, and video calls are great for staying in touch regularly with your teams. But don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and simply ask how someone is. Keep staff recognition schemes going – there may be different criteria or new rewards, but don’t stop just because everyone is distanced.
Virtual coffee breaks, weekly online pub quizzes, brunch catch ups, good news updates and show and tell video calls have all been implemented by teams looking to catch up, support each other and stay in touch. Mental Health First Aid England have suggested hosting a Q&A call for staff to dial in and share questions or concerns they may have about working from home or feeling isolated during furlough.
2. Remind your employees of available support Do you know which moments in the new “normal” for staff are causing them the most stress? Do you know which employees are struggling to switch of and relax? Do you know which employees are suffering from mental health struggles due to anxiety or fear?
Mental health charity Mind suggests asking staff to complete a simple Wellness Action Plan enabling you to put in place practical steps to support your team.
Don’t shy away from asking – be confident to start a conversation about mental health. Discuss Government support, ACAS Coronavirus information and Company policies and Employee Assistance Programmes that may offer signposts or advice to staff.
3. Talk to staff about self-care Encourage staff to practise self-care such as a healthy routine for diet, sleep and relaxation. The Mental Health Foundation has published guidance about looking after your mental health through exercise, suggesting that even short, 10 minute bursts of physical activity increase our energy, mood and our mental sharpness. Put helpful resources to good use by sharing them regularly – mindfulness, yoga, meditation, visualisation are all accessible via apps and online tutorials. Run a session with your team on who has found what useful.
Promote existing health and well-being benefits and support, for example signposting staff to stop smoking support, wellbeing advice via an EAP, and to their counselling helpline.
A daily routine is said to help during periods of isolation, or as we get used to a new ‘normal’. Remember to exercise, get plenty of sleep, eat healthily and stay in touch. 4. Be kind Treat others how you would like to be treated. A tiny gesture or a well timed question can mean so much more than reams of advice via email. Think about ways that you, and your team can support each other by demonstrating small acts of kindness and thoughtful moments to demonstrate that staff welfare is a strong Company value, rather than something you pay lip service to. Whether it’s a postcard to home, a gift delivered or a pertinent meme via Whats App, do spend some of your available time reaching out personally to connect with your team. Small gestures can have a huge impact.
5. Agile working will be the latest buzzword When a high proportion of staff are working from home, or socially distancing on site with fewer staff, employers will need to consider shaking things up and finding resourceful new ways of working to help staff maintain productivity and positivity. There is a huge amount of advice and information out there on maximising homeworking and flexible working from the CIPD, ACAS and many others. Plan ahead now to enable your workforce to return to a brighter, shinier, more productive ‘normal’ soon.