This week (18th to 24th May 2020) sees the national mental health awareness week so we have delved into what employers can do to help their employees manage their mental health, whilst working from home, during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
There have been numerous studies carried out over the past decade on the intertwining relationship between mental health and life at work. Academic investigations into this connection have found that 1 in every 6.8 people have experienced mental health issues in the workplace and that as many as 12.7% of all sickness absence days are related to mental health.
From a revenue point of view, these studies also found that UK businesses may be able to save as much as £8 billion per year by providing better mental health support. With reports indicating that the current COVID-19 pandemic will trigger a huge rise in mental health issues, what can you - as employers - do to help your employees as they work from home? Read on to discover how you can provide adequate support for your employees and ensure your workforce remain happy and productive.
Provide Your Staff With The Equipment and Information They need
First and foremost, it’s crucial that your staff have access to all of the information and equipment they require to perform their roles well and, therefore, reduce stress levels. By lending in-house equipment to your staff as they work from home, you can ensure that your staff have everything they require available to them - from software and email chains to shared information sheets required to perform their job.
Help To Keep a Structure and Flow To The Working Day
One of the most common tips for those working from home is to keep a structure to the day. As an employer, you should encourage this and put initiatives in place which facilitate it. For example, utilising Zoom or Google Hang Outs for a daily or twice-daily meeting in the morning and in the evening to catch up with your staff and ensure they are set up for the day.
Ensure that you are on hand for your employees should they need you. By being contactable and present, you can answer any queries or concerns your staff have and alleviate their fears or anxieties. By providing a structure, flow and support system, you can help reduce the natural feelings of isolation associated with working from home.
If your mid-year appraisals are falling due, still hold them (albeit over the phone or via online methods (again such as Zoom or Teams)). Remember to factor in performance targets may need some modifying however, something as simple as regular feedback to report on a job well-done, can do wonders for building morale and positivity in the workplace and for that individual's mental health. It is such a simple and quick way to show encouragement.
Think of it another way, if you receive a compliment, it lifts your mood so the same context applies in the workplace.
Ensure Employees Are Aware of The Assistance Programmes You Provide
As an employer, you have a ‘duty of care’ for your employees which compels you to do as much as you reasonably can to support your staff’s health and wellbeing. This does not change when staff begin working from home.
Ensure that your staff have access to the contact information of any Employee Assistance Programmes you provide and offer to provide confidential one-to-ones to any employee who is struggling.
Swan Craig Solicitors: Employment Solicitors in Bristol
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The author, Kirsty Swan, is a solicitor with over 12 years' experience providing both legal and commercial advice on all areas of employment law encompassing commercial law.