Thursday 20th Aug 2020
The easing of lockdown restrictions, along with a return to work for many people, might seem like a surefire way to improve some of the challenges employees might be dealing with when it comes to their mental health. However, this change could be nearly as great as the introduction of lockdown rules. And of course, many of those returning to work are doing so remotely, which adds additional strain.
With this in mind, employers would be wise to plan for the mental health of their employees as we move back into the world of work. Here are four easy ways that business leaders can ensure that their employees are looked after.
1. Encourage a work-life balance
When employees are working from home, it can be easy for a situation to occur where work life and home life become blurred. Try to encourage employees to stick to their normal working routine as far as possible, which means creating a separate workspace, working usual hours, and taking breaks at typical times.
For staff in the workplace, you should similarly ensure that they are balancing their time correctly. While extra hours for the business might seem great, it can take a detrimental toll on a person’s wellbeing, which can ultimately harm the business in the long run too. If people are regularly working late or starting early, is this because they have more work than they can reasonably do? Or are they struggling to manage their time? Finding solutions to the answer to either of these questions can be really valuable.
2. Ensure a general understanding of mental health amongst management
This one is important. While understanding and catering to mental health may have become more prevalent in recent years, there are still many for whom it is a relatively unfamiliar concept. You need to ensure that managers at all levels have a good understanding of why mental health is important, and how it can affect people in different ways. Training courses are now readily available online to give individuals the essential information they need to tackle mental health in the workplace, and are ideal for those who’ve not necessarily encountered mental health as an issue before. Ultimately, you and any other business leaders must always remember that your responsibility to employees is about more than just the work they do.
3. Communicate well
Excellent communication is the key to making people feel included and listened to. A feeling of isolation often compounds any worries that they might have, and where employees are working remotely, this is even more important. They will have less opportunity to have a chat with colleagues about their day-to-day life. Encourage communication between remote workers and facilitate this with solutions such as instant messaging apps.
As part of communication, you should also clearly explain to the business that you value mental health, and that you will be taking steps to monitor it and encourage a happy working environment.
4. Monitor mental health
Our final point is that mental health needs active monitoring. Being reactive often means allowing issues to build before they are discovered. Managers need to check in with their direct reports on a one-to-one basis, rather than simply waiting for mental health difficulties to reveal themselves. Often a quick check to see how people are doing is all it takes to improve a person’s day. It does not need to be an in-depth look into their mental health, but rather a casual discussion around how they’re feeling and how the business impacts this.