A good People Director can embed a holistic company-wide strategy to employee wellbeing rather than a piecemeal approach to help you reconnect with your employees, improve morale, reduce staff turnover and build a happy, healthy workforce.
Before Covid, one in four people had some kind of mental health issue. Now, more than half of adults (including two thirds of young people) say their mental health has worsened since the pandemic began. Many people are feeling isolated, missing family or are anxious about becoming ill themselves or losing loved ones, so it’s impacting us in a multitude of different ways.
It’s also had a huge impact on our working lives. Work brings meaning to our lives, social interactions, status, money, health and safety… Every aspect of that has been challenged by the pandemic.
Dealing with severe staff mental health issues can be very stressful for all involved. The cost to the business can be significant, with potentially hundreds of hours lost to sick leave and employees exhausted as they struggle to deal with it.
There are plenty of things employers can put in place to help employee wellbeing, not just now but when normality (hopefully) resumes.
Starting a conversation
Providing a ‘check-in’ space for staff, with activities that encourage discussion, can help employees connect with each other and talk about any difficulties they’re facing. We’ve been running monthly check-in sessions for clients, in small groups from across the organisation, with very positive feedback.
Spotting early signs
It can be difficult for managers to see whether colleagues are struggling. Some people handle depression or anxiety by ‘masking’, others escape through unhealthy addictions such as shopping or alcohol. There are some warning signs, such as erratic or out-of-character behaviour. However, managers may feel ill-equipped to address their concern with that colleague.
Training in mental health
We’ve also helped clients by running mental health workshops for managers. The two-part series focuses firstly on what mental health is and then goes onto explore leading and managing with mental health and employee wellbeing in mind.
Employee assistance programmes
Even with this training, managers are not professional counsellors. It’s worth also putting in place other practical solutions like an employee assistance programme which offers confidential counselling and advice.
Tailored to business needs
Different organisations will have different challenges to address around staff wellbeing, depending on the nature of the work and the individuals employed. A People Director can put a tailored strategy in place that addresses the specific needs of the business.
Model what good practice looks like
The saying, ‘Put your own oxygen mask on first’ means making sure you are in a good space so you’re able to help others. The key to success is that everyone is involved, including (in fact especially) the leaders, who need to model good practice by being willing to listen, talk and learn.
Why think about Employee Wellbeing now?
Staff who feel well supported by their employers are likely to be more engaged; companies we’ve worked with report improved morale and reduced turnover if they make these kinds of interventions. And after more than a year of remote working, there’s never been a better time to rebuild those vital human connections as we regroup and move forward in this ‘new normal’.
If you need help to put things in place so you have a great support process for your employees who are suffering or for those helping to support your staff with mental health issues, get in touch on 0203 239 3307 or email [email protected]
Vee Halliwell, People Director