Supporting employees' mental health
As an employer, you should support your employees whilst they are working from home during the coronavirus outbreak.
Businesses around the world are asking their employees to work from home due to the coronavirus crisis. For many of us, this is a change in our daily routine and the opportunity to interact with others in person significantly limited, which can lead to feelings of isolation and uncertainty.
There are a number of things you can do to ensure you, and your employees, stay mentally and physically well in these circumstances. Your employees will be better able to manage their own health and wellbeing if they feel supported by you as their employer.
It is particularly important to continue to consider how the different types of support offered within the workplace can be transferred to the home working environment.
This "Thrive at Home" guidance provides some holistic advice on supporting your employees whilst they are working from home. In addition, employers are advised to keep up with the Government’s latest advice.
Here are six areas you should consider to support your employee’s health and wellbeing while working from home:
Employers need to ensure they are maintaining good communication with their staff to support them and reduce any sense of isolation.
For many of us, this is a change in our daily routine and the opportunity to interact with others in person significantly limited. This can lead to staff feeling isolated, unclear of their role and anxious. As an employer you have a duty of care to your staff’s mental health and wellbeing whilst they are working from home, just as you would when they are at work.
Find some tips on how to communicate while working from home here, or visit these resources:
- Mental Health Foundation has information on how you can support yourself and colleagues
- The BBC has released some helpful tips on working from home.
- This CIPD factsheet has further guidelines on supporting your employees’ health, wellbeing and safety
- Mind have produced some information on providing managers with guidance on how to support employees.
Maintain mental wellbeing
Employers should encourage all employees, including managers, to look after their own wellbeing whilst working from home.
A change in routine and being suddenly forced to work in isolation can have a negative impact on our mental wellbeing. Continuing, where possible, with daily routines will support their overall wellbeing. This will also allow them to continue to remain productive and contribute to the organisation’s operations.
You can find some suggestions for supporting your employees’ mental wellbeing here, or visit these resources:
- Every Mind Matters can help your employees to create a Mind plan.
- The Mental Health Foundation has information on how you can support yourself and colleagues.
- Mind has published some useful advice and guidance suggesting some simple things individuals can do to look after their mental health and wellbeing at this time.
- Mind have produced a toolkit, which contains useful resources, including information on structuring your day if working from home as well as guidance on creating Wellness Action Plans
Support musculoskeletal health
Employers need to encourage employees to remain mindful of their Musculoskeletal (MSK) health while they are working from home.
You should ask all employees to revisit your organisation’s Display Screen Equipment (DSE) policy and consider their homeworking environment.
You can find additional information on supporting musculoskeletal health here. You might like to share the following links with employees:
- Health and Safety Executive Guidance on Working safely with display screen equipment.
- Health and Safety Executive Guidance on working from home
- The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy has produced a list of great desk-based exercises.
Encourage physical activity
Employers should encourage employees to remain safely active while they are working from home.
You can find information on supporting your staff to stay active here. You might like to share a link to the NHS website, which has a number of free workouts, such as:
- innovative gym-free workouts
- Desk chair yoga
- Chair workouts
- Low impact workouts
- NHS One You website offers home exercises and an app to download for advice on physical activity and healthy lifestyles.
- Sport England have some guidance on staying active while in and around your home, if you’re well enough.
- The Body Coach has many exercises to help people during the crisis.
Promote healthy choices
Employers should encourage employees to continue to make healthy lifestyle choices while they are working from home.
You can find further information on making healthy choices here, as well as through the links below:
- The NHS One You website has information on how to eat better
- Mind offer advice on eating well and staying hydrated
- NHS provides guidance on eating well
- Smokers can get further advice and support about quitting from todayistheday.co.uk
- You can get further information on being drink aware here.
Provide support for external risks to health
It is understandable for employees to be concerned about your financial wellbeing in these times. You might like to share links to further information and advice on finances, such as the below:
- The government have advice on what support it available to employers, employees and self-employed during this crisis
- The Money Advice Service has useful information on things you can do right now,and information on emergency budgets, insurance policies, savings, talking to creditors, problems paying your rent, mortgage, bills, car finance payments and borrowing.
- Step Change Debt Charity has resources on how you can manage your finances and debt during the coronavirus pandemic.
- The NHS has guidance and advice on organisations that can support individuals that may need help with gambling issues.
- Your employees' personal bank will also have a range of options and support available.
Caring for others
As an employer, you should be aware of your employees who are caring for others, for example elderly relatives or children.
You can find further information on caring for others here, or at the links below:
- Guidance on working flexibly and taking time off to look after children
- Parents are entitled to emergency dependence leave. This covers school closures and other unexpected disruptions to the arrangements to care for the child. (CIPD)
- The government has guidance for parents and carers on supporting children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing during the outbreak
- There are many free educational resources that are available online for supporting and entertaining children that are off school.
Some individuals may be at risk of being exposed to domestic abuse whilst working from home. Domestic abuse includes controlling, coercive, threatening, violent or abusive behaviour. You can find resources related to domestic abuse at the links below:
- Women’s Aid offer information and Support and have a guide to making a safety plan.
- Hollie Guard offers a personal safety app
There are also many national and local helplines available including:
- National Domestic Violence 24hr helpline 0808 2000 247
- National LGBT+ domestic abuse helpline 0800 999 5428
- Rape Crisis England and Wales 0808 802 9999
- Men’s Advice Line 0808 801 0327
- Respect helpline (for anyone worried about their own behaviour) 0808 802 0231