The importance of employee wellbeing and mental health has taken a top spot on the HR agenda throughout the Covid pandemic and how to address issues has become a priority. The stigma previously attached to talking about mental health has changed and we are now much more comfortable talking about it.
That said, HR should continue to challenge attitudes and be aware that mental health looks different for everyone. More employers than ever are committed to employee health and well being, but we all know that there is still room for improvement. Organisations need to be proactive in approach to supporting employee mental health, especially now that many people are suffering from “Covid fatigue”.
Studies show that a large percentage of employees want their employer to care about their mental health and would stay with an employer that is providing high quality mental health resources. These resources are considered to be far more important than the usual “perks” and discounts. To prevent loss of employees to organisations providing services that support mental health concerns, now is the time to maintain employee wellbeing at the forefront of HR.
As restrictions ease and we return to the Government’s “Plan A” it becomes more and more apparent that many employees are experiencing health issues, some of which could prove to be long-term. Consequently, benefits and support for employee wellbeing are as important as ever. Covid did not create the mental health crisis; it was the circumstances surrounding it that forced us to recognise a crisis was already happening. People were already dealing with anxiety, depression and other mental health issues. So, as we approach two years of living with Covid, it’s understandable that many are exhausted by constant precautions and restrictions, exacerbating pre-existing mental health issues.
With a successful vaccine programme and relaxation of restrictions, there is a growing sense of ‘business as usual’ in some quarters. But, we may never return to the workplace we left in early 2020.
To support employees through the months ahead here are some ways in which you can address mental health:
- Conduct wellbeing check-ins and give employees a voice to express concerns
- Promote healthy lifestyles and offer access to benefits that support this, e.g. wellness days, meditation, yoga classes
- Offer flexible working options to support personal choice, such as a 4-day work week or a continuation of remote/hybrid working
- Communicate effectively and ensure that you accept and act on feedback
- Train managers on how to respond to and address mental health concerns, thereby ensuring your workplace is a safe space your for employees
Let 2022 be the year you take a proactive approach towards positive mental health and wellbeing and consider what you can do to improve happiness in the workplace. Every step, no matter how small, will make a difference and help to prevent Covid fatigue (and the mental health issues it amplifies) becoming a new pandemic.
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