Rebekah Valero-Lee covid-19
If you are an employer or manager, you may never have had to think about other people more than during this time of crisis. It is essential that this continues as lockdown restrictions ease. The health and welfare of your people must be a priority and appropriately managed as many of your employees face a potentially daunting prospect of returning to their workplace.
As an employer you not only have the responsibility of ensuring your employees’ physical health and safety by creating Covid-secure workspaces, but by understanding the effects of disruption and anxiety, you must also prioritise mental wellbeing.
Here are some tips to help you put in place support mechanisms and create a culture where employees feel able to share their challenges and in turn, ease anxieties.
1. Talk to your people
Keep in regular contact and whether people are in the workplace or at home, be honest and authentic. Start by acknowledging the uncertainty and the stress the workplace now causes, and be prepared to say that you don't have or know the answers to questions ‘right now’. Reassure anyone left waiting that you will prioritise finding the solution to their challenge, and you’ll come back to them at your earliest opportunity.
Make sure that alongside regular communication with all staff, you also liaise with line managers. They are the main contact between the heads of an organisation and its people and if you want to achieve consistently applied policies and advice, they may need more information than you give to all staff. Remember, you should only share advice and guidance from accredited and responsible sources, especially in regard to people’s health.
2. Everyone has a different mental health
This pandemic has had an impact on how we all think and feel about ourselves and the world we live in. There is a lot of talk of physical vulnerabilities in relation to the coronavirus, but many people will be going through the entirely new experience of mental vulnerability. From feelings of displacement, being overwhelmed and stress and anxiety, people who may never have experienced mental health issues before may be feeling mental distress and it’s important to consider this.
These circumstances might lead people to disclose mental health problems they have previously not discussed at work. Treat new disclosures with respect and compassion and make reasonable adjustments.
3. Promote access to support
Provide access to support services through your workplace – there are many excellent third-party mental health resources that you can promote to help your employees such as an Employee Assistance Programme and through charities like Mind. Make sure these resources are made widely available on company intranets and are clearly signposted within the workplace.
In addition, ensure people also know where to go and who to talk to internally. If you have mental health champions, allies or mental health first aiders make sure they have the latest information, and that if you change working practices as more government guidance is announced, that this network of mental health support continues to adapt so it can provide constant support.
If you need help with implementing mental health support services within your organisation we can provide accredited mental health first aider training and additional interim HR support to deal with peaks in demand. Contact our training director, Matthew Leavis at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
For most people anxiety will be temporary and will fade over the coming weeks and months. For others, it may represent a more long-lasting concern that will require support to overcome.
As employers we need to adapt our approach and develop the tools to support the wellbeing of our community in tackling the additional challenges that COVID-19 poses to the mental health of our workforces. Promote your internal mental health support services effectively and remember that as line managers and directors, they’re there for you too.