HR Executive, Small Firms Association
When considering employee mental health and wellbeing, an employer should do everything that is reasonably practical to provide care and support.
As businesses are being given the go-ahead to reopen or operate more extensively, it is important that employers adhere to public health guidelines and ensure worker health and safety. While this phased return to work involves operational and logistical planning, it is critical that the emotional and psychological, as well as the physical health and welfare of workers is fully considered and safeguarded.
Train managers on how to support employees
Managers will bear much of the responsibility for ensuring employees have a safe work environment, where positive physical and mental health is promoted. They should therefore ensure to familiarise themselves with the warning signs of emotional distress, to engage with staff and learn how to resolve immediate issues which can mitigate long term problems.
It is inevitable that some, if not many, employees will be anxious about workplace re-entry. Employers must create a cohesive and inclusive environment and provide support and guidance to help manage and reduce workplace re-entry anxiety. This may include facilitating blended working, reinduction and retraining in the workplace.
Regular and timely communication from management is key to supporting employees and their wellbeing.
Share accurate and timely information
The extensive lay off or reduction of working hours of employees during the pandemic has undoubtedly adversely impacted many, causing feelings of isolation, anxiety and stress. For businesses that had to adjust to a hybrid working environment, the changed work patterns and practices caused in many instances, a blurring of the boundaries between work and home.
Regular and timely communication from management is key to supporting employees and their wellbeing. Businesses that have regular engagement and keep all employees well-informed and updated on plans and activities will empower workers and ensure inclusivity.
It is important that employers create an open, inclusive and safe environment to encourage employees in poor mental health to reach out in confidence. An employee assistance programme (EAP) is a confidential counselling programme which operates primarily within the workplace to identify and address employee concerns. While it may not always be feasible for small businesses to provide an internal EAP, support can be sought externally through outsourced support services such as WorkPositive Tool and Turn2me.The continued support and promotion of employee health and wellbeing is paramount to maintaining a business’s most valuable resource and ensure its success going forward.