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Mental Health: Supporting Employees in Troubling Times

There is a word we have all become accustomed to hearing throughout this coronavirus crisis: unprecedented. For many employers and employees alike, this has and remains a period of great uncertainty and rapid change as what was ‘normal working life’ is transformed in the face of measures to fight coronavirus.

For those organisations still able to operate, there have been many challenges to overcome such as facing changes in demand for products or services and implementing new working methods and workplace practices, including for some employers, introducing home working for the first time. Amid all the challenges faced by employers it’s important not to lose sight of the importance of mental health in the workplace.

So, what steps might employers wish to consider taking to support employees?

  • Encourage a culture of openness by letting employees know it’s OK to talk about mental health and any concerns they may be experiencing. Mental health is still a subject that people can find difficult to talk about, particularly at work, so it’s important employees feel able to do this especially in such a worrying time.
  • Maintain regular communication with employees. Keeping in regular contact can help address any work concerns employees may have at an earlier stage to prevent them from escalating. Keeping in regular contact helps to build and maintain a good rapport which can lead to employees feeling more comfortable sharing any mental health or personal concerns. Some employees who are working from home may begin to feel isolated as time goes on or feel disconnected from the rest of their team/department. Organising regular telephone conferences or holding team meetings over video-conferencing platforms can help to keep the team dynamic going and support employees’ mental well-being.
  • Ensure employees take the breaks they are entitled to as this will help them to relax and refocus. If employees are entitled to a longer break than the legal minimum it can be tempting for them to cut it short if they are particularly busy. This can in some cases be counterproductive as employees become fatigued later in the day and in the longer term it may start to detrimentally impact their performance.
  • For employees who are working at home for the first time, employers may wish to encourage them to maintain a positive work/life balance by setting a healthy and positive daily routine and sticking to it.

If you have any employment law matters you would like to discuss, please do not hesitate to contact Kingfisher Professional Services Ltd as we are happy to help.