Recent data shows the number of sickness notes detailing mental health issues from employees has risen since the UK’s second lockdown. From April 2019 to March 2020, 35% of fit-to-work notes were due to mental health concerns. This year through the months of April, May and June, this number rose to 41%. Whilst this dropped 10% in comparison to this period last year, many employees were furloughed which reduced the number of workplace mental health issues. With this in mind, we look at why now is the time to support your employees’ mental health.
A think tank embodied by the Centre for Mental Health predicts that 8.5 million adults and 1.5 million children in England will need mental health support in the coming months. The predictions come following a rise in mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, and PTSD.
Why Has This Happened?
Working from home has made working particularly challenging for many of us during this sensitive time. Remote working comes with a lack of social interaction and the loss of physical encounters with our managers and other areas of the business. Not only does this create a sense of isolation but it reduces productivity, motivation, and workplace morale. Morale is very important for our career progression, building professional relationships and our general wellbeing.
What Are The Dangers?
Statistics of rising mental health issues are detrimental to not only the wellbeing of the nation but also for the economy. Many of us throughout our working life will face a mental health issue at some stage, regardless of a pandemic. Without mental health support or dismission of o mental health in the workplace, this can be costly. Employees facing a mental health issue are more likely to require time off, underperform or end up quitting altogether.
What Can I Do As An Employer?
You can use the realms of virtual working to your advantage to bridge the gap between professional relationships. Here we share some tips on how you can support your employees during this particularly stressful period, and beyond.
Regular team meetings are imperative for communication amongst teams for the completion of tasks. But when did you last take the time to ask your team how they are really doing? One-to-one meetings booked into our diaries can often seem daunting but under these circumstances they have proven extremely beneficial.
Schedule one-to-one check-ins once a month for employees to express what they need and want. Not only does this strengthen the manager-employee bond, it also prevents mental health issues arising.
It is easy for employees to feel ‘left out’ or fear they don’t know what is happening across the business when most of their working time is spent in solitude. Virtual meetings are great way to inform employees of future or current changes happening across the business. With redundancy at an all-time high this year, it’s natural for many of us to fear the stability of our jobs. Communication can be done monthly, quarterly and yearly to ensure all areas of the company are aware of updated business news.
Sitting at your desk talking into your computer screen with a glass of wine doesn’t quite compensate for drinks after work on a Friday. However, all employees need to let off steam, one way or another. Not only does this support our mental wellbeing it also fosters a positive work environment.
In addition, perhaps you could run ‘Coffee Roulette’ where employees meet virtually with colleagues in different teams or departments that they haven’t yet got to know.
Focus on Wellbeing
Working hard and being successful is important but when our well-being is out of whack it is easy to feel unmotivated. This can cause a drop in productivity and can also affect our working relationships, therefore a focus on our mental well-being is more important than ever.
Ask your teams what they are doing to look after themselves. Are they exercising? Are they taking adequate breaks? Introduce new ways you can inject positivity within the workplace. Such as, cutting 30 minute meetings to 25 minutes for employees to have a break between meetings or offer a ‘Daylight Hour’ for employees to get outside before it gets dark. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a very common condition during the winter months. Whereby this wouldn’t have been present during the initial outbreak of Coronavirus, it is now. Getting outside during the day for a short walk or run can help to reduce feelings of SAD.
We recently touched on the presence of technology in the workplace for employee well-being. With every means of communication done through a screen this year, therefore it makes sense our wellbeing is done in the same way.
There are many tools out there to help with our mental wellbeing ranging from Calm and Headspace for meditation and mindfulness to our app designed to track, monitor and support your mental health at work.
The time we are working in is very extraordinary. Companies must recognise our environment is full of uncertainty and remain aware of the challenges individuals are facing with working from home. With the right support, care and attention, workplaces can return to normality and see a reduction in mental health concerns.
Everymind is on a mission to normalise the conversation around mental health at work and in doing so we’ve launched a workplace app tailored to your employees’ needs. Available 24/7, think of us as your pocket therapist, as and when you might need us. Could we help your business? If you enquire before January 1st, you’ll get a three-month free trial.