The issue of mental health at work has been the topic of hot gossip for a while now. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates the global economy suffers a US $1 trillion loss due to workplace absenteeism attributed to mental health conditions.
Experts now say polls will be needed to understand how the coronavirus pandemic has impacted mental health. With millions facing job losses and wage cuts, anxiety, depression and self-harm are expected to increase. The draconian lockdown, whilst necessary to prevent the spread of Covid-19, could also take its toll on the mental health of employees. Business owners could have a few surprises in store when normal service is resumed.
Whilst our employees have been able to work from home, we still have concerns about how being cooped indoors will affect their mental health. We also have to ensure they return to a safe working environment once we are allowed to reopen the office. The situation with coronavirus is something Sliced Bread has taken very seriously. We would like to share our thoughts about safeguarding the mental health of our employees with you.
Mental Health Tips To Combat Stress, Anxiety and Depression
Modern technology makes it very easy to stay connected. Whether you’re sending a text or using a messenger app, let your employees feel your support with a quick message. Also arrange weekly 1-2-1s to provide feedback, encouragement and ‘a change of environment’. Virtual or not, being able to speak with people you respect can help boost confidence and wellbeing.
You may also want to arrange a group chat outside working hours where you can all connect and chat about non-work related matters. Why not make it fun and organise a family quiz.
Be honest and open
Employees are naturally going to have concerns about job security. No-one knows how long lock down will last and a large number of businesses are at risk. Whilst you may want to alleviate the fears of your staff, the best policy is to be totally honest. You could also take this opportunity to brainstorm ideas of how to stabilise and grow your company moving forward.
Identify signs of stress
People will nearly always say they are okay even when they are not. Business owners and managers should, therefore, be looking out for signs of stress or other mental disorders that may be emerging. If you don’t know how to detect signs of stress, read about them here. Also, make sure to give this information to your employees so they can monitor themselves and take relevant action.
Not all of your employees will be in the best environment to work from home. People with children will probably suffer constant interruptions whilst others will not have sufficient workspace.
As a result of working from home during the lockdown, it may not be possible for your employees to hit their targets. As a matter of fact, it may be unreasonable to expect them to. You can safeguard the mental health of your workers by abstaining from targets. Wherever possible, avoid creating undue stress and anxiety. You could even use this exercise to identify employees that are committed to your business and those that are not.
Prepare for work-life after Covid-19
There is a strong possibility the government will introduce policies that dramatically change working practices in the future. For example, to enforce social distancing, firms may only be permitted to allow a maximum number of personnel in the office at any one time. Remote working practices will provide a solution for many businesses. However, telecommuting policies need managing. A change in work routines and practices can also impact mental health.
Consult your workforce to understand how they feel about working from home and whether they have the right environment to work efficiently and productively. This information will help you organise and implement remote working moving forward.
How To Differentiate Free Time From Work Time
Working from home during lockdown can impair mental health. Some workers will do too much, whilst others may not do enough and feel negative emotions which contribute towards mental health such as stress, guilt and anxiety. Employers and managers need to make sure your staff is factoring in free time for themselves around working hours. Free time is best qualified as “leisure time”.
In the workplace, the law encourages employees to take 20-minute breaks when they work for more than six hours. Breaks help to reinvigorate cognitive function to improve focus and attention and increase productivity levels. Encourage your workforce to ensure they take breaks whilst working from home together with regular leisure activities that relieve stress. By removing barrier that cause stress, there is less risk of your employees retuning to work with anxiety and depression.
During this difficult time, we must pull together and remain positive. We believe there is a solution to every problem, and looking after the mental wellbeing of your staff is a problem you can avoid by using a variety of solutions.
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