At the beginning of 2020, a Deloitte study estimated that one-in-six UK workers were experiencing a mental health issue at any time. The subsequent Covid lockdown, marked by an increase in isolation, health and economic anxiety, has seen a further negative impact on the mental wellbeing of UK employees.
We all want our people and our teams to feel their best and operate to the best of their abilities. There’s also a clear business case for supporting your employee’s mental wellbeing — a Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health report concluded that better mental health support in the workplace could save UK businesses £8 billion per year.
So, what can you do as an SME to support your employee’s mental wellbeing during these rather uncertain times?
Incorporate mental health first aid
Much like a physical first aid course, mental health first aid training equips you and your team to recognise and understand the signs and symptoms of mental health issues.
Here at Kirsty Craig Associates, we have completed a Mental Health First Aid Awareness course, which has given us a greater understanding of how mental health can impact the workplace. We also see this as an essential element within our redundancy support and career coaching services.
Helping people back into the workplace
2020 saw a large proportion of the UK’s workforce shift to remote working, with little or no time to properly prepare. This sudden change, with its removal of workplace social interaction and support structures, has been difficult for many to adjust to working in isolation.
Some businesses are implementing ‘office rotations’, in which employees who are being negatively impacted by remote working can return back to the office on a rota, maintaining proper precaution and social distancing. This gives them social interaction with colleagues and also helps to ‘ease’ employees back into the physical workplace following furlough or working from home.
Support those working remotely
While the move to remote working was vital for employees’ health and safety in the short term, making sure they are properly equipped to work remotely will be paramount in the medium and long term.
Physical wellbeing naturally impacts mental wellbeing. As some workers are preparing to continue remote working until at least the beginning of 2021, you have an ongoing duty of care to ensure they are equipped to work safely and efficiently, whilst feeling a sense of belonging to your company goals and culture.
Continue to support the social and emotional health of your remote workers too, by providing digital hangouts and one-to-one support with team leaders or managers. This will help maintain two-way communication, promote healthy work/life boundaries and accountability.
Foster a sense of achievement through L&D
Embracing Learning and Development opportunities can be a great way to support your employees’ wellbeing during this time. Where some workers may be feeling discouraged by the ongoing lockdown, or feeling anxiety towards the future, investing in L&D opportunities in which employees can develop their skills and knowledge can foster a sense of achievement and purpose, leading to greater job satisfaction and productivity.
We know that you want the best for your teams. Whether you’re recruiting, managing periods of change or seeking HR support, we’re the people people! Find out more information about our forthcoming learning and development programmes.