How may your employees mental health be affected by the current lock down? Disruption to daily routines, family issues, financial stress, and fear of infection are just some of the issues that can play a part in affecting staff mental health at this time. Almost a year into this global crisis and no sure end point, helping staff to maintain a level of mental well-being has become more important than ever before.
Here are some of the ways you can support your staff and their mental health in your organisation:
Leadership + Communication
Two of the most important factors to consider when supporting staff mental health. Each day of work, staff members are adapting to tasks or crises that may be happening in any given day. Keeping staff informed on what the plan is for the day and what the key things they need to be mindful of is vitally important to keep levels of stress and uncertainty to a minimum. Breaking out tasks into levels of importance allows staff to focus and reduces staff feeling overwhelmed or overburdened. Within daily meetings, be truthful with staff on resources, future planning, and issues. Acknowledge any uncertainty authentically and be honest when you do not know all the answers. With the current crisis and vaccination roll out, ensure employees are seeking information from trusted sources. Encourage staff to check where they are reading news or hearing information from.
Individual Employee Mental Health
Firstly, be mindful of employees who have pre-existing mental health issues. An employee may have disclosed this to you in the past, informing you of situations that may cause them difficulty mental health wise. Prepare for further disclosure, be ready to be open and willing to listen to each employee’s concerns in private. It is helpful to be aware of what internal and external resources you can provide for staff members. What resources would best offer them assistance at this time? Along with this, encourage staff to stay connected with one another. Encourage discussion of any issues without judgement. A buddy system could encourage staff to check in on one another throughout the day. Some staff members may be working remotely. Encourage engagement online and virtual coffee mornings to keep people involved, to some level, in the important social aspect of work.
Early Warning Signs
Look out for the early warning signs that a staff member may be struggling with their mental health. Are they acting erratically or out of character? are there any changes in how they present for work or is their work performance deteriorating? If you notice any of these early warning signs, its important to address this with your staff member, check everything is okay and figure out how you can support them. Perhaps you will need to modify their tasks/ duties for some time to ensure they can remain in work. Communicate openly in a non-judgemental way, highlighting a want to support rather than alienate. Ensure to follow up on a regular basis to make sure that the staff member feels supported.
Managing Remote Workers
Most staff working in social care do not envisage working from home. However, the current lockdown has forced many people into situations they could never have imagined. Communication is key when keeping an eye on employee mental health. Where possible, use video calls to contact staff to maintain some level of face-to-face connection. Video calls will allow you to also pick on general body language and non-verbal cues that might not be readily apparent. Where video calling is not an option, phone calls, emailing and texting can be used to check-in. Focus on the person and not just the tasks they are completing for the day. Enquire about their health and well-being regularly. Encourage employees to establish daily routines and create boundaries for work and home.
“Success is the sum of all small efforts repeated day in and day out.”
Establish mental health check-ins as part of the working day. Create an environment that is open, honest, and truthful in your organisation. There is little that can be done to predict the future but the effort in each day will bring a brighter tomorrow.