Making sure mental health and wellbeing is properly looked after while at work is something that, over the years, we have sometimes taken for granted.
The pandemic changed all of that. With the introduction of new working models, methods and systems, many of us had to adapt to new surroundings, including how and where we worked. For some, spare bedrooms, dining room tables and kitchen breakfast bars became new offices and meeting venues.
Now, as companies make use of the new working models which see employees spend time between being onsite and working from home, it’s even more imperative to make sure employee mental wellbeing is looked after. On top of this, the UK workforce has been stretched and tested during an unprecedented time, and even though businesses are slowly recovering from the effects of the pandemic, many employees are still suffering mentally as a result.
Ensure wellbeing is a top priority
The wellbeing issues that have risen throughout the pandemic are well documented. Research from an October 2021 UNISON survey of more than 10,000 health employees in Wales, England and Northern Ireland showed that a total of 57% of staff were thinking of quitting their jobs. The top reason given for wanting out is the negative impact work is having on employees’ mental health.
It’s important for businesses to understand how addressing wellbeing issues is still paramount to sustaining an engaged and productive workforce. Knowing how employees react to changes in circumstances and what psychological benefits they feel companies should be offering them is vital, helping employers to better understand the impact these challenges could have on mental health will create a safer space for employees.
When you facilitate authentic working relationships with your team members and support them with their workloads, you will automatically see fewer people off sick, improved productivity and ultimately lower staff turnover.
Service Development Specialist, Reed Wellbeing
Understand the impact that changes in mental wellbeing can have on employees
According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists, one-in-six people experience mental health problems in the workplace. Adapted working policies due to the pandemic have seen many businesses develop greater support for the care and duty of their employees.
Businesses had no choice but to modify their day-to-day processes to make sure employees felt valued, safe and looked after while working remotely. These processes must be maintained to counteract the possibility of employee burnout and mental fatigue.
Create and sustain a nurtured ‘back to the office’ environment
With many companies now having returned to the office in some way, shape or form, employers must continue to take on board how changes in routine may have affected staff. Having worked remotely for well over a year, some employees may have been feeling anxious about returning to office life, alongside social situations, busy crowds and their commutes.
An office environment where employees feel nurtured and able to be at their most productive is essential for business growth. Employers must continue to look after their employees by creating a workplace where they can thrive and speak openly about any issues or concerns they may have. It’s important that a business gives a voice to its employees and listens to their feedback.
Continue to connect, communicate and listen
Loneliness continues to be a significant public health issue – heightened during the pandemic. It remains one of the key areas surrounding poor mental health, with multiple Mental Health Foundation reports showing that being connected to other people in a way that helps create a sense of value is fundamental to protecting mental health.
Businesses need to ensure the correct structures are in place to support employees, alongside regular channels of communication on the importance of good mental health, and how employees can gain the support they need.
Constant communication is beneficial, with research by the Local Government Association showing that social isolation levels rocketed during the pandemic. By continuing to connect and organise situations that allow employees to bond and stay connected, organisations will improve teamwork and boost productivity.
Monitor and evaluate changes to working conditions
Employees’ desire for workplaces that support mental health and offer comfortable working environments for different needs is rising. In order to show a proactive approach to employee wellbeing, managers should continue to dedicate time and resources, alongside having an adaptable and flexible mindset, to monitor situations surrounding mental health.
Now more than ever, it’s essential to be able to fully empathise with employees and help create working conditions that best suit their needs. A healthy workforce is a productive workforce.
Allowing employees the opportunity to co-create or have a say on specific aspects of working conditions will enhance their feeling of value to business. Empowering employees is crucial for reducing the mental strain that changes in working conditions can bring.
Mental wellbeing is just as important as physical wellbeing – in a working context it could be even more so. It’s your responsibility to look after your team, especially if their worries are directly connected to work.
HR Expert and Diversity Champion, Reed
Establish an inclusive culture
Being able to support mental health and wellbeing is an important aspect of the post-pandemic working environment, so creating an inclusive culture will increase engagement and boost staff longevity.
Remote working has highlighted the importance of support and inclusion when it comes to employee wellbeing. With many businesses adopting a hybrid, flexible working system, it’s vital that this support continues, otherwise they risk some employees feeling left out and neglected.
The ability to attract new talent is enhanced when businesses embed and promote an inclusive culture. Consider how flexible your organisation’s approach to working is, focussing on prioritising a healthy work-life balance.
To enhance your employee wellbeing offer, start a conversation with one of our Reed Wellbeing experts today.