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How to Care for Your Employees' Mental Health During Covid-19 Pandemic

As the third lockdown and COVID-19 pandemic continues, business leaders should carry on putting their employees' mental health and wellbeing at the forefront of their agendas. For some employees, being forced to continue working from home is not conducive to productivity, family circumstances and overall mental health.

What’s more, research conducted by the charity Mind.org confirms that a culture of fear and silence around mental health is costly to employers. More than one in five (21%) people agreed that they had called in sick to avoid work when asked how workplace stress had affected them, whilst 42% of respondents had considered resigning when asked how workplace stress had affected them and 56% of employers asked said they would like to do more to improve staff wellbeing, but don't feel they have the right training or guidance. If you’re an employer, here are some ways you can care for your employees and help to address any mental health issues in your workplace.

Communicate Regularly

Employers need to treat mental health and physical health as equal as possible. It can take time for employees to feel comfortable to talk about their mental health issues, so you need to make sure your line managers have a regular one-to-one with their teams, and they encourage their colleagues to talk about any problems they’re having, openly and freely, in confidence. You should also consider appointing mental health ‘champions’ within your workplace, whom people can approach and discuss their matters privately. Having a secure and compassionate forum usually reduces a lot of anxiety and ambiguity.

Introduce an Employee Assistance Programme

You can show a duty of care to your people by offering a free Employee Assistance Programme (EAP). This will give your employees 24/7 confidential access to help and advice when they most need it. An EAP service usually includes free telephone helplines, structured counselling, post trauma support, medical advice, commercial legal advice and a suite of online tools to help your workers stay happy and healthy. Deploying an EAP can reduce mental health related absence levels by as much as 45% and improve productivity by as much as 8%. More importantly, it helps to protect your employees.

Reward and Recognition

Employers and employees alike need continuous recognition. We all know that acknowledging employees’ hard work has a positive impact on them, this is even more true when they’re working from home. Our latest survey found that 68% of organisations with social recognition reported a direct positive on employee retention. It’s up to you whether you decide to recognise and reward your employees informally or implement a full scale reward and recognition programme. Reward and Recognition is an important area where time and effort should be allocated, not only will this have a significant impact on overall employee mental health and wellbeing, in addition it will help to create a rewarding company culture.

If you’re looking for inspirational employee reward ideas, feel free to contact us, as we have many memorable employee engagement and retention solutions.

Wellbeing and health initiatives

Employers should consider introducing ongoing healthy benefits and perks for employees. There’s lots of ways to do this and many options to explore to ensure the initiatives are right for your culture and employees. For instance, you could allocate daily 30 minutes and encourage employees to use this time for exercise, meditation, or other wellness activities. You could also encourage employees to run regular Yoga classes at work, online or organise boot camp classes for people to participate in.

Also consider encouraging your employees to take time away from their screens, to go for regular walks and get away from the daily slog of a busy working day. A healthy body will help to form a healthy mind and will hopefully lead to less stress and anxiety. Here at Virgin Incentives, we’ve created many relaxed break-out areas and meeting rooms which are designed as actual experiences, e.g. fine dining, glamping, and spa breaks. This helps our employees to take some time away from their desks and use these areas to unwind throughout their day.

Mental health is such a hot topic right now and it has become a huge priority for many businesses. If you'd like to find out how Virgin Incentives can help your employees’ wellbeing through Reward & Recognition or through team experiences, get in touch today.

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