One of the impacts of Coronavirus is the effect it’s had on employee mental health. Depending on the nature of the work that employees undertake, many people have experienced heightened levels of anxiety due to impacts in their living situations, impacts on their employment status and their relationships.
Many relationships were impacted negatively by COVID. Pre-existing problems that may have been masked have been heightened for families living together in lockdown. Additionally, studies have shown that for many families in lockdown, women were spending a disproportionally larger amount of time focused on childcare, home schooling and housework.
The uncertainty felt my many people during COVID also increased anxiety. This was also the case for individuals who had to quarantine or who had family members who were suffering from the illness. For the most part, anxiety levels should have decreased when life returned ‘back to normal’. For some individuals, however, the effect on their mental health was more long-lasting. So what are the best measures that employers can take to support their workers?
The Australian Human Rights Commission have developed a guide for assisting employees with their mental health. This outlines how to:
- Talk to employees about mental health challenges
- Make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to output to better support employees
- Develop flexible working arrangements for employees
It’s also recommended for Managers to be vulnerable with employees in order to normalise mental health challenges, model healthy behaviours such as prioritising self-care and work on developing a culture of connection at work through checking in with each other. A simple ‘How are you doing’ and being prepared to sit down and listen to the answer are simple recommendations that instill a culture of caring.
Aside from the Corporate Social Responsibility that an organisation has to ensure its employees are looked after, supporting the mental health of workers has a number of additional benefits. These include a reduced days off for personal leave, reduced turnover rate, increased employee retention and the likelihood of developing a high functioning and motivated team. It can often become uncomfortable having open conversations but it’s important that employers stay positive and are brave enough to ‘ask the question.’
In 2020, depression ranked second to heart disease as the leading cause of disability world-wide, according to Harvard Public Health Professors.
Practicing mindfulness in the workplace is another strategy as it encourages employees to take time out of their day-to-day tasks to take short breaks, clear their minds and practice breathing exercises, meditation and yoga.
Should your business require support with developing policies for managing employee mental health, speak to the HR Consulting team at Flexi Personnel.