What are your responsibilities?
All Employers have a ‘duty of care’ towards their Employees. This means doing all you reasonably can to support your Employees ‘ health, safety and wellbeing.
This would include:
- Ensuring your Employees can work safely and healthily
- Protecting them from discrimination, for example making sure reasonable adjustments are considered for Employees with a disability
- Carrying out risk assessments
During the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, you should do all you reasonably can to encourage positive mental health.
For example, you may find it helpful to:
- Arrange extra mental health training for your you as a business owner or a Line Manager and Employees
- Appoint mental health ‘champions’ who Employees can talk to
- Promote existing wellbeing support, such as counselling
Business owners or Line Managers must communicate regularly and support Employees if they need to have sensitive conversations find out more about mental health and the law.
How should you communicate during this time?
Many of your Employees may be feeling anxious, worried and upset so you should acknowledge any concerns and reassure them, you should make it clear how you will be supporting them in the short term by doing this you will build trust and alleviate their worries.
The way in which you communicate is important along with it being regular and open, we are all aware that the pandemic has changed our lives, the way we are working and our approach this means we need to keep abreast but do so effectively. It is important that Employees adapt to changes, the style of communication will help.
Employees must be informed about important workplace updates and you need to let them know you are available should they need support.
You can help your Employees feel reassured by:
- Communicating openly and sharing information in a highly visible location, for example on the intranet or by emailing all Employees
- ‘Consulting’ with Employees (asking for and considering their views) so they can give feedback and share concerns
- Providing timely information so Employees are regularly updated
Business owners or Line Managers should be kept fully up to speed and up to date, this is imperative so that they can share information with their teams.
If Employees have concerns about mental health and wellbeing, they are more likely to talk to their Line Manager.
Your important information is better communicated in a clear, concise and straightforward way, you can do this with empathy, by doing this it will help avoid panic and reassure Employees.
Where you have available resources and support you should offer and signpost them clearly. This maybe for example, an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) offering Employees counselling or ‘drop-in’ sessions with a third party to talk through any issues.
How can you assess mental health in your workplace?
You can gather feedback from your Line Managers to understand how their teams are coping, which resources are helpful and if they require any more support.
If you have an online area where Employees can share information or updates it may be useful to look through it to understand Employees concerns and areas where they need more support.
You could also use or create wellbeing surveys to gain an insight into how Employees are feeling.
What support is available?
The Coronavirus has taken its toll on many businesses, to add to it you may feel overwhelmed trying to manage mental health in your workplace during the pandemic.
It should not be an expectation of you to be an expert in mental health, the basic principles of knowing what support is available can help.
Employee representatives can assist you in your workplace, you may want to establish this support to help you.
You can also find support services that can help you improve mental health in your workplace, for example:
- Mindful Employer– workplace mental health training, information and advice
- Remploy– provides a free Access to Work Mental Health Support Service to improve mental wellbeing in the workplace
What training is available on mental health?
ACAS provides practical mental health training course which you may find useful and this can help Business Owners and Line Managers to:
- Recognise signs and symptoms of mental health conditions
- Have conversations about mental health with more confidence
- Identify and address issues earlier
- Support Employee wellbeing, both remotely and in the workplace
How can the HR and You team help you?
We are here to support you during Covid-19 and have produced a range of downloads for you to use in this range, you can contact us to learn more or to ask us anything at all about Employee Mental Health and Wellbeing.