Apr 27, 2021 12:11:36 PM
Awareness of employee mental health has moved up the business agenda in recent years, but the Covid-19 pandemic has made it a top priority.
Many employees have spent the past 12 months adjusting to remote working, dealing with feelings of loneliness and even experiencing video call fatigue. It’s little wonder that UK Google searches for ‘signs of burnout’ increased by 24% during 2020.
Home working, lockdowns and social distancing have taken a toll on our mental health. Research by mental health charity Mind reveals that 60% of adults said their mental health got worse during lockdown. And according to figures published by Bupa, 78% of business leaders experienced poor health during the pandemic.
But an easing of restrictions won’t signal an easing of issues with mental health. According to CMI research, 62% of managers believe the wellbeing of their team had been or would be impacted by a return to the workplace.
While a return to ‘normality’ can’t come soon enough for some employees, for others, the thought of sharing indoor space, socialising and commuting may cause significant anxiety.
Why workplace mental health matters
Over the years, some workplaces have fallen short when it comes to looking after employee wellbeing. Emphasis is often placed on employees’ physical health (through perks such as gym memberships and health insurance), but mental health falls by the wayside.
When an employee’s wellbeing suffers, so does their work. Which is why investing in an employee wellbeing service is so important.
Stress, anxiety and other mental health issues can lead to people being less engaged, focused and productive. It can also lead to sick days – although employees may be reluctant to share that fact with their employer. According to research, people are twice as likely to take time off for a physical health issue than a mental health problem (66% versus 34%, respectively).
However, according to Mind, those with poor mental health may be reluctant to seek information or support from their workplace.
How to create a healthier working environment
Workplace mental health may be a key business priority, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to manage.
So, how do you let staff and colleagues know that it’s OK not to be OK? Here are five ways you can support – and improve – mental health in the workplace.
- Be open about mental health
The first step is to speak openly about mental health and stop the stigma. Talk about the subject candidly and regularly so that it stays front of mind. Create space for employees to ask questions, raise issues, and ‘check in’ when they need to.
- Promote a culture of acceptance
Presenteeism can lead to higher rates of absence and costs. Reinforce the fact that it’s ok for staff to take time off when sick – whether for physical or mental health reasons – and let them know our minds and bodies need a break sometimes. Build a workplace culture that places wellness at its heart and gives staff the support they need via an employee wellbeing service like Skye’s.
- Lead by example
Culture starts at the top, so every manager and executive needs to demonstrate the importance of mental health. Without this top-down approach, your employees may question how genuine your efforts really are.
- Treat people with respect
Approach the subject of mental health in a way that makes your employees feel understood, appreciated and respected. Listen to each team member, asking them for feedback about the support provided and what support they need to achieve their goals.
- Provide access to relevant resources
The more barriers there are to getting the right support, the less likely staff will find what they need. Help employees feel valued, engaged and connected by investing in a workplace wellbeing service. Offering specialist health and wellbeing support, employees can access the expert financial, legal, bereavement and emotional advice they need – when they need it the most.
With Skye Wellbeing, small worries don’t have to turn into big problems. To find out how we can help support your employees’ health and wellbeing, schedule a free demo today.
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