There are many benefits to from working from home however it also brings its own unique set of challenges. With the continuing spread of COVID-19 the mental well being of staff is more important than ever.
Phlo Digital Pharmacy has teamed up with Welbot. Welbot is an innovative, evidence based corporate workplace wellness platform designed to improve employee health and well being whilst in the office or when working remotely from home.
In the first of our series, Welbot discusses the types of mental health issues an employer should be aware of during these unprecedented times
The conditions of our social distancing have been brought about by a global health crisis. It is reasonable to feel stress and even fear about this. As an employer, you can act to reduce that stress response by providing accurate information from reliable sources directly to your staff. Consider suggesting to your staff that they limit the amount of time they spend engaging with coronavirus news each day to minimise stress and anxiety.
Some will find themselves far from their loved ones and some will be spending a lot more time with their family in a confined space. Both of these situations bring challenges. Most people’s regular routines have been upended, and we are still early in the process of adjusting. Be as flexible as you can with regard to working arrangements and empower your staff to balance their work and home responsibilities.
The coronavirus pandemic has had enormous effects on the global economy. If you have had to furlough staff, their finances will be affected. There is also a good chance that members of your staff have partners or other family who will face redundancy, furlough or reduced income by some other means. This has the potential to cause serious detriment to mental health.
Help your employees by communicating clearly. Uncertainty about possible future threats disrupts our ability to avoid them or to mitigate their negative effects. This causes anxiety. By communicating clearly and providing notice about what your organisation expects and how it will respond can reduce anxious feelings in your staff.
This is another potential cause of stress that you, as an employer, can help to manage. Hopefully you are in a position where your staff’s jobs are not in jeopardy. If you are confident that this is the case, be sure to communicate that efficiently to your employees. If, however, some colleagues’ jobs are threatened, communicate this compassionately. Be clear about timelines and what the possibility of re-hiring and return to work might look like.
Humans are social creatures. Isolation and social distancing do not traditionally help people to flourish. Do what you can to help your colleagues connect — with each other and with their friends and family outside of work. In this new normal, digital commitments should be respected in the same way in-person commitments were before the pandemic.
Address the fact that people respond to remote work differently. Some people thrive and relish independence. Others take to remote working less well and rely more on traditional office structures and interactions. Try to ascertain how your workers feel and perform amid these new circumstances and respond accordingly. Communicate often, widely and with purpose.
Staff will be missing their normal well being support and routines. Employers can help staff identify other ways to stay physically active at home. Making sure your staff take regular breaks is essential and will boost their productivity and mental well being. You can’t make your employees exercise but encouraging them to do so is an effective way to promote better mental health.
In order to work and communicate, a significant degree of engagement with technology is necessary. Since many of us rely on it more than ever outside of work hours, fatigue can understandably set in. This fatigue may manifest itself in the workplace. To some degree, this engagement with tech for communication is unavoidable. Recognising this fact, however, and speaking to your employees about it, acknowledging exasperation and irritation will demonstrate that you pay attention and that you care.
If you want to go the extra mile in looking after your colleagues’ mental health, really try to understand how they are coping under these circumstances. People’s situations are different: their responsibilities, their material environment, their access to outdoor space and their personalities and attitudes can vary enormously. Try to understand, without prying, how your employees are feeling and how this situation is affecting their mental well being. Work affects our mental health at all times. Those who can continue to work are lucky, but that doesn’t mean work duties and obligations are easy to manage. Recognise this, listen to your colleagues, and include them in devising the best response possible for their mental health and the health of the organisation.