April 2021 marks Stress Awareness Month and as the month draws to a close, the conversation around mental health has never been more at forefront of everyone’s minds.
Employers strive to create a supportive culture and work environment for their employees. However, with more employees working remotely, or amongst fewer colleagues, employers currently have less control over the stress and anxiety that many employees are experiencing both inside and outside of work.Despite this, managing mental health at work remains a top board room priority.
Bath Mind is a local mental health charity which provides mental health support and advice to businesses and managers on how to maintain positive mental health and wellbeing. To mark Stress Awareness Month, Pip Galland, Bath Mind’s Chair of Trustees and local employment law and HR solicitor, provides five top tips for businesses aiming to reduce pandemic stress and increase workplace wellness.
- Be a leadership team that communicates effectively with its employees
Many businesses will have created taskforces to deal with company-wide messaging on how they will deal with coronavirus related issues. Return to work planning remains a key issue for many employers. However, remember to keep your employees updated. If you have mental health champions, or mental health first aiders make sure they also have the latest information.
Staff surveys are also a great way to check-in with employees to understand how they’re feeling, what’s working well, and what can be improved on to enable them to work effectively and maintain their wellbeing.
- Ensure that managers remain visible and employees continue to feel part of a team
Managers play a critical role in supporting employee wellbeing and mental health. How people are treated and managed on a day to day basis is central to mental health – and managers should be encouraged to have conversations about wellbeing with their team.
Employees want authentic conversations. Managers should remain honest and sincere in what they say. There is nothing wrong with acknowledging the uncertainty and the stress that Covid-19 has caused, provided that they also attempt to offer solutions. Managers can share how they are looking after their own well-being at this time. This will help to create permission for their team to do the same and encourage people to seek help if they need it.
- Train your managers on how to look for signs and manage mental health disclosures
Managers should be trained on the potential signs of poor well-being and mental health, as well as how to handle a disclosure of a mental health condition. Managers do not need to become mental health experts but they do need to know how to identify mental ill health. Training managers on mental health first aid can be really useful. See Bath Mind’s mental health awareness courses for further details.
- Encourage your employees to maintain a routine
Working from home or remotely can be very challenging and isolating. Encourage employees to:
- Designate a place to work that is as free of distractions;
- Set a routine for working at home – it’s important to take regular breaks including a lunch break, and to finish working and turn off at an appropriate time;
- Pack away their work things so that there is a clear distinction between home life and work life;
- Engage in activities such as exercise, yoga or mindfulness which are known to have a positive impact on mental health.
- Encourage employees to take annual leave
It is important to set boundaries between work and downtime and this means regularly taking annual leave. Remind employees of the benefits of taking regular breaks so that they can rest and re-energise. Periods of recovery during annual leave are essential to our wellbeing. Employees who take regular holidays are likely to be more motivated about their work and perform more effectively.
For more information on how to tackle stress related issues at work visit: www.bathmind.org.uk or contact Hannah Roper, Head of Business Development at Bath Mind. Email: email@example.com or call 07943 496835.
Pictured above: Pip Galland, Chair of Trustees, Bath Mind