The Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent events of 2020 have had a significant impact, with changes to our daily lives happening quickly and often with little or no warning. This level of uncertainty has naturally put people’s mental health under immense pressure, and fuelled anxiety. From immediate concerns around health and safety of loved ones, all the way through to financial worries and job security. But businesses have adapted, with small businesses demonstrating real agility and understanding. Yet, with little distinction between people’s private and professional lives, there is a greater need for employers to be aware of employee’s mental health and wellbeing, and to be alert in case any are struggling. And not everyone shows signs, so it’s important to support employees even if you think they are managing. To help, we have identified six tips to help employers.
Check in and update staff regularly:
It’s a particularly anxious time for employees having to contend with job uncertainty, pay cuts, being out the workplace environment and away from colleagues. So, communication has never been so important. Regularly checking to ensure they are OK, comfortable with the current set up and environment. Also updating them on business news is vital during these tough months, which is made even more challenging with the darker evenings as winter sets in.
Be supportive and non-judgemental:
During the national and regional lockdowns, many employees across the country have been trying to juggle work, caring for loved ones, managing with lack of childcare all with a change in environment. During this challenging time, being sympathetic and not judgemental can go a long way to helping your colleagues.
Introduce flexible working policies and mental health days:
Trying to conduct a conference call with dodgy internet, screaming children and a barking dog is stressful. But we’re all in this together. So, support staff where you can and if workload and the job suffice, try to work with your employees to see whether they need to work more flexibly. This will help get the best from your workforce, enhance their productivity levels and ultimately help to boost your bottom line.
The world as we know it continues to evolve, so there’s never been a better time to offer employees training. As many businesses struggle and may have taken a profit hit, training may not seem feasible, however it doesn’t have to take significant investment. Leaning on the expertise of other employees and sharing this with your wider workforce can not only help staff, but also boost morale, whilst helping to save money.
Offer colleagues tailored employee benefits:
If you already provide critical illness cover and mental health support services through your business, make it accessible for employees to use. Put time aside for them to actually maximise them in work hours rather than during their personal time. Offering a bespoke employee benefits package means staff can really benefit from what’s on offer.
Introduce ‘no meeting zones’ or regularly break times:
In the new world of Zoom, Skype and Teams it’s easy to feel constantly in demand. Meeting after meeting, never switching off can really take its toll. Blocking out an hour over lunch ‘ a no meeting zone ‘ can be hugely beneficial. It gives staff a break away from their work, so that come the afternoon they are far more productive.
These tips are a helpful starting point for employers. Beyond these, simple measures such as introducing a no meeting zone over lunchtimes or catching up with a colleague you’ve not heard from can make a real difference. Being more open as a business encourages others to come directly to you if they are struggling or if they have suggestions on how to make things better, it’s a two-way street. Above all taking the time to consider your employees and show them that you appreciate the effort they are putting in, especially right now, will make a big difference to how they feel about their job ‘ and will hopefully foster greater loyalty in the long run.