Supporting your employees Mental Health & Wellbeing; What steps can you take?
Safe to say that employers have been under enormous strain over the last year, what with Covid-19, legislative changes, Brexit, lockdowns and home-schooling. Getting through a 'normal' work day seems to be fraught with constant challenges.
Your employees are also facing some of the most globally mentally challenging and physically taxing times of their lives. As an employer you have a duty to not only facilitate a save physical working environment but also a responsibility to the mental health of your employees.
There are many ways in which you can do this however, fundamentally maintaining communication and presence for your teams, as well as incorporating a more flexible approach to leadership will demonstrate this most clearly. How can you do this?
Maintaining clear communication and presence:
1) Check in with your team via email, phone calls, video conferencing, not only in regards to the work that needs to be done but also to ask them how they are?
2) Be approachable. Allow them to genuinely answer that question, without fear of being judged or repercussions (If we are honest with ourselves we are all struggling at the moment in one way or another).
3) Help them. If a member of your team identifies to you an area that they are struggling with and it is in your power to help alleviate it, then absolutely do it.
You'll find your team works harder and more productively for a leader that demonstrates compassion and mutual respect, they'll have increased morale and this will filter down to other employees throughout the business.
4) Be present. The dictionary definition of this is 'being in view or at hand'. So not only when your team needs you or ask for help (See 1 above).
Incorporating a more flexible approach is paramount in the current climate due to school closures, home working and increased safety measures due to covid-19.
If your team has now moved to homeworking, instead of having a rigid approach of 'you work for 8 hours a day, from x to x time', you might relax that take slightly, by incorporating a system whereby the employee is free to choose what times of day to work, times that may fit in easier around childcare and other responsibilities. As long as the work is being completed and deadlines are still being met, the end goal of that department is being hit and the business is demonstrating a clear concern for the work-life balance of their employees and in consequence also their mental health.
It may be the case that you have employees that are still required to come into the workplace and they may need some temporary flexibility in terms of their hours, possibly reducing their lunch break to finish earlier or moving to part-time hours.
Many businesses are now not only training first aiders for their businesses but also investing in providing Mental Health First Aiders, who are in place should an employee need someone to talk to and can also refer an employee to a Mental Health professional if necessary. There are also a variety of support packages and benefit platforms out there that offer access to classes like yoga and mindfulness, as well as trained mental health professionals and care facilities.
Whatever the case may be, it is important to encourage communication, work to identify means of team building and comradery, have support measures in place and mitigate risks to the business and employees using clear policies and wellbeing practices. This will exhibit to your employees the means by which your business is supporting them at this difficult time.
Ultimately to show genuine concern for your employees wellbeing, adopt flexibility and put in place increased health and wellbeing facilities and practises will increase morale, reduce sickness levels and employment relations issues, promoting union and team spirit.
Working together toward the businesses goals will boost the successes and victories of your company. Everyone wins!
If you are interested in putting in place a Wellbeing strategy, discussing how you can support your employees Mental Health, or updating the policies and practices you already have in place, then we would love to hear from you.
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