“How do I support staff mental health post-lockdown?”

David Price: Managing Director

October 01 2020

Studies show nearly two-thirds of adults have suffered symptoms of depression, stress or anxiety since COVID-19 hit in March. That’s six people if you employ a workforce of nine.

Yet 56% of workers say they haven’t had any mental health support from their employers.

And with a second wave of the virus looming, now’s the time to plan how you’ll help your staff overcome their struggles—and deliver their best work every day.

Here’s what you need to do to support your workers’ mental health post-lockdown.

Learn to spot the signs and symptoms

It’s tough to tell whether a worker is suffering from mental health issues. But if you’ve known them for a while, you might be able to compare new behaviour to how they used to act.

Signs you should look out for include:

  • Slipping work standards
  • Becoming quiet or withdrawn
  • Poor timekeeping
  • A short temper
  • Taking more sick days

In-person, these signs should be fairly clear. Not so much if your staff are working from home.

But wherever your staff work, and whether they’re showing symptoms or not, you should have regular one-to-ones through the outbreak to make sure they’re ok…

Speak to your staff as often as you can

Every month or so, take your staff for a private chat. If they’re at home, voice or video call them.

Be gentle with your line of questioning. Check if everything’s ok at home, and ask how they’re feeling about the pandemic. They might be grateful for the opportunity to open up.

But also, be prepared for them to claim they’re “fine” or dodge the question.

Some people feel ashamed to admit they’re not feeling well, especially if they’re worried their boss might look upon them negatively.

It’s your job to show them that this isn’t the case. And you can prove it by listening to what they have to say, and putting their ideas into action.

Strengthen your policies with staff input

As an employer, you must protect the health, safety and welfare (including mental health) of your workers. And if you employ five or more people, you also need a written health & safety policy.

The policy should spell out all the potential stressors your staff could face at work and the steps you take to cut them out.

But post-lockdown, your policy might no longer meet your staff’s needs. So you need to ask them what you can do to boost their mental health during the pandemic—and consider introducing their suggestions at work.

If they’re worried about using public transport at peak times, think about offering flexible start times. If they feel unsafe coming to the workplace, see if you can set them up to work from home.

Small changes might be all your staff need to feel happier.

But if you can’t grant all of their requests, or their mental health issues need extra care, it might be worth helping your workers to seek specialist mental health advice…

Offer your workforce professional support

Many UK business owners now provide Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) to protect their workers’ wellbeing and give them the best chance to succeed at work.

An EAP is a suite of support services that helps your staff tackle every issue in their personal life.

With Peninsula’s EAP, you get 24/7 telephone advice, face-to-face counselling and a library of online resources, all delivered by UK-based experts to help your workers lead happy, healthy lives.

Recently, our EAP has also launched an exclusive wellbeing video series called BrightTV.

It features some of the UK’s most-loved personalities speaking about their own experiences with mental health, and how they overcame them to lead a successful career.

The first episode, released in September, is presented by Dame Kelly Holmes, double Olympic champion and motivational speaker. It’s available to watch now for Peninsula’s EAP clients.

BrightTV is just one more reason why 11 million workers rely on Peninsula to protect their wellbeing. Find out how your workforce can too.

Speak to an EAP expert today on 0800 917 0771.

Suggested Resources