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Promoting mental health at work

Wed 7th Oct 20

The 2020 World Mental Health Day theme is Mental Health for All. As a business, Ryan’s takes mental health very seriously and we have programmes and processes in place to ensure we’re doing all we can – both for the people in our business and for our community. Tim Ryan takes a look at promoting mental health at work while working from home…

Promoting mental health at work. It’s something that has risen on the management agenda over the years and, as an industry, I feel we’re addressing mental wellbeing more and more. There’s always more that we can do, though. And especially while many of us are managing our people from afar, checking in on our team members’ states of mind is even more important. So, what should we be looking out for?

Be aware of the impacts of working remotely

Working from home, alone, can cause people to feel isolated, which can lead to depression and a host of mental health issues.

On 1st October 2020, the Centre for Mental Health published a prediction that up to 10 million people – that’s almost 20% of the UK population – will need either new or additional mental health support as a direct consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic. Clearly that’s not all about working from home, and other significant factors are at play, but managing the impact on mental health for home workers can help.

Checking in with each team member regularly gives you the opportunity to check for any changes in their general persona, as well as their productivity, and to talk to them and offer support.

Seek out and encourage regular communication

Perhaps the most important thing to remember when managing a dispersed workforce is to stay in regular contact. This sounds easy but can become troublesome as your calendar ramps up. So, while you may not want these contact points to feel contrived, putting regular calendar events into your diary can help to keep them sacrosanct!

It’s also important to remember to schedule team meetings, where full teams can feel joined up, as well as one to ones.

Online training sessions may also be a useful tool in the managing mental health kit, helping to make your people feel valued and to encourage them to upskill positively during a worrying time.

Be as open as you can about business plans

Of course, your employees are also likely to be watching the rising unemployment caused by the pandemic and this may cause them to worry about their own job security. This, in turn, will take a strain on their mental health. Offering regular company updates can help to reassure those who are feeling anxious. Be open about the steps you are taking in response to new guidance and restrictions, and on how this may impact the business. Be open to staff voice sessions, where your people can talk with you about their concerns, too.

Be available when you’re needed

With the best will in the world, and with all the support available, people are still likely to become overwhelmed or anxious – either about aspects of their work, about the situation in general, or both – and making yourself or one of your HR team available for reassurance and an empathetic ear when needed can make the world of difference.

Keep your people informed about how they can voice their concerns, too. If you have an intranet, a dedicated page can be useful. Alternatively, regular update emails, reminding staff of the options open to them are a good idea.

As we all work in these uncharted times, it’s important to be there to support and encourage each other. Mental health for all is an important topic – let’s keep it high on the agenda.