The Covid-19 pandemic has brought with it a lot of challenges for employers, whether that be financial or otherwise, but one thing is for sure, there has never been a more important time to focus on the wellbeing of our employees.
To mark World Mental Health Day on October 10th, we have compiled our top tips on how you can create a culture that supports employees to be open about their mental health.
It is vital employers support the wellbeing of their employees whether they are working in a traditional office environment or remotely during the Covid-19 pandemic, and with the advanced feelings of disconnection that the pandemic may bring, it is more important than ever that employee support is transparent.
Below, we share our top tips on what you can do to make sure you are doing exactly that.
1. Be open to talking about mental health in the workplace
You need to send a clear signal to your employees that their mental health matters and that being open about it will lead to support and not discrimination. Have a clear mental health strategy in place with specific policies to ensure employees experiencing mental ill health get the support they need straight away. Doing this should help your employees to talk, whether that’s to you as HR, to you as their line manager or to you as their employer.
2. Take notice of changes
You know the people in your team, so be aware of any changes in their behaviour. It’s important to remember everyone’s experience of a mental health problem is different, and there may be no outward sign – this is why it’s so important to create an environment where people can be open.
You should never make assumptions about a person’s mental health, but clues may include changes in their mood, how they interact with colleagues, changes in their work output, motivation levels, or if they are struggling to make decisions and get organised.
3. Assess the workplace
Is there something about the working environment that can be improved to support an employee who may be experiencing mental ill health? If you don’t know, make sure to ask them. Perhaps they would prefer a desk by the window for example. Small changes can go a long way in helping them to feel more comfortable and happier within the workplace, whether that’s through a simple desk move or providing a fresh bowl of fruit and refreshments.
4. Encourage a healthy work life balance
Remind employees they are not expected to be at work 24/7 and to take some time for exercise, rest and relaxation. It may also be a good idea to speak to your employees about their current working hours, and whether flexibility around their start and finish times may help them to achieve the right balance for them.
5. Be honest
You may be noticing that some members of the team are voicing concerns about the affects Covid-19 may bring to your business, and what it means for them and their job. Be open and honest with them about any changes that may be happening, what you intend to do to help minimise the impact and how they might be affected by any of those plans.
6. Make support accessible
Whether you’re a HR professional, business owner or line manager, the support you provide to an employee who is suffering from mental ill health is not only about keeping hold of a valuable member of the team, but also sends a message about your organisation’s values. Make sure your employees know who to talk to, and how to access any confidential counselling they may need.
Considering the unprecedented nature of the current situation, you also need to make sure that you look after and protect your own mental health during these times, to be able to deal with the stresses that work may bring, alongside the support you must provide to employees.
Ultimately, the pandemic has given employers an opportunity to embrace changes within their organisation, and a clean slate to create a kind and compassionate culture.
For further information about how you can support employees who are experiencing a mental health problem, click here to read a helpful resource from UK mental health charity Mind.