Sheltering their employees from the current storm will benefit organisations in the long run, writes Rob Stephenson
AS WE travel through the pandemic, we hear a number of home truths on mental health: “We’re all facing the same storm but are in very different boats”; “It is a marathon and not a sprint, yet many of us have been sprinting for six months”; “Are we now working from home or are we living in the office?”
It is also true that 100 per cent of us will know what it is like to struggle with our mental wellbeing as a result of the pandemic. The government has changed its guidance on returning to the office, and we are heading into the long winter months ahead with the additional concern of the economic impact of lockdown biting as much as the cold weather.
The mental health of employees has been severely tested over the last months due to isolation, increased stress and anxiety, uncertainty and risk of burnout. Many employees have been well supported through this, as companies ramp up their efforts on mental health and wellbeing, but many others have been left to fend for themselves.
Checking in with employees and finding ways to ask how they are feeling is important for employers, alongside creating cultures where people feel that they have permission to prioritise their wellbeing. Prioritising sleep, exercising regularly, scheduling breaks in the day, inserting a buffer between work and family time, and working hard to connect with people who make them happy are good approaches employees can be advised to take, to mitigate the enormous strain of this hugely stressful period.
But it’s important to recognise that employers also have a duty of care towards the people who work for them. As we move into the next phase of the pandemic in the UK, organisations cannot afford to ignore the mental health of their people. Because, once we eventually make it through this crisis, employees will remember how those employers treated them, and how they made them feel. As the saying goes, a happy worker is a productive worker – improving mental wellbeing and resilience capacity isn’t just about the people involved, it’s also one of the biggest performance gains we can make right now, in a period where businesses will need them the most.
Whatever you are doing as a business leader right now, you cannot afford to ignore the wellbeing of your people.
By Rob Stephenson, Mental Health Campaigner and Consultant, Founder of the InsideOut Leaderboard and CEO of FormScore