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Mental health problems are on the rise due to working from home – spot the signs to help your employees

Posted on: 25th Nov 2020 by: Demos HR Solutions

Mental health problems are on the rise due to working from home
Mental health problems are on the rise due to working from home

Once upon a time, not too long ago, working from home was considered to be a perk of a job, with employers showing trust and flexibility to staff being allowed to so. Then Covid-19 came along bringing lockdown with it forcing people to work from home, and a recent survey by Nuffield Health has indicated that 80% of people working from home have said it’s had a negative impact on their mental health.

Whilst some companies have started to bring staff back into the work environment, this has added further anxiety to the mix for fear of catching the virus. Our blog below details what you can do to acknowledge and recognise mental health issues in your workforce, and provides some guidance on what you can do to help your staff.

 

SHOW THEM YOU CARE

Unfortunately, many organisations are still hesitant to speak openly about mental health, however the first step employers can take is to let employees know it’s okay to talk to their managers about any worries that they might have. Often, just speaking to a senior colleague about how they are feeling can potentially help employees overcome any further mental health problems.

Managers and team leaders should set aside some time each week just to telephone or video-meet (not email) their workers for a quick ten-minute chat just to see how they are – separate to discussing work projects. This includes speaking with employees that are either working from home or on furlough.

 

MANAGEMENT TRAINING

Ensure all managers are aware of the potential implications of mental health, as well as the signs of an employee that might be suffering from mental health problems. A new website by the mental health charity MIND has a vast amount of resources that can be used to aid mental health awareness training, plus, the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development (CIPD) has put together a PowerPoint presentation which you may find helpful - see below:

 

HOME OFFICE ASSESSMENTS

If your staff are working from home on a regular basis, and if you’re considering this to be a permanent arrangement, you should carry out a suitable risk assessment and provide the equipment that your staff may need. UK law states that employers have a duty to protect the health, safety and welfare of employees so ensure this is done at the earliest opportunity. Here are just some of the elements you need to consider, and that could impact mental health:

  • Are the employee’s duties suitable for working from home?
  • Have you discussed working hours and any flexibility that may be required to work around children?
  • Does the employee’s work area have adequate lighting?
  • Is the employee’s workstation suitable for the job, such as right height of desk, supportive chair, and any other special equipment the employee might need?
  • Have you ensured the employee understands to take regular breaks?
  • Do you have a culture of encouraging mental health improvement activities such as meditation and regular exercise?

 

LOOK OUT FOR THE SIGNS

Be aware of the potential signs that an employee may be suffering from mental health issues including:

  • A negative change in job performance
  • Working long hours without taking breaks
  • Irritability, anger or sadness
  • Increased sickness absence or lateness

If you spot any of the above or other potential signs of problems, whilst mental health may not be the issue, a manager should arrange to speak to the employee on the topic of wellbeing to determine if there is an issue, and if anything can be done to help, including a potential referral to Occupational Health. Dêmos HR Solutions work with a number of employers on implementing wellbeing strategies as well as employee rewards as part of retention – speak to us if you need assistance in this area.

 

COMING BACK TO THE WORKPLACE  

If you intend for workers to eventually come back into the workplace, the current circumstances mean you will need to put measures in place to ensure the safety of staff to avoid catching and spreading Coronavirus.

Furthermore, it may be appropriate to undertake a company-wide, or individual surveys of employees to determine their feelings around returning to work and to take any necessary action to reassure and support them. It may be necessary to implement a re-induction process. At Dêmos HR Solutions, we can work with you to create a bespoke survey, and manage the return to work procedure for your staff.

 

MANAGING REDUNDANCY ETHICALLY

With the extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) many employers will be claiming the furlough grant to be able to retain employees until at least 31st March 2021. However, if you are considering having to make redundancies in your workforce, ensure you communicate with your employees regularly to minimise anxiety around job security and financial worries.

Take a look at our recent blog on ensuring you follow procedures that are ethical as well as some that you are bound to by law. Click here for our top tips. We also offer employers the services of our Redundancy Package, made bespoke to your specific requirements and branding, including process guidelines, letters, and our personal service where needed.

 

DÊMOS HR SOLUTIONS – HERE TO HELP

We hope that the information above provides a foundation for acknowledging and supporting your people when it comes to the impact of working from home on mental health and wellbeing. If there is anything we can do to help further in this area, or if you’d like to find out more about our retained services, please email debbie@demoshr.co.uk or call 07974 695 365. In the meantime, you can visit our website at www.demoshr.co.uk.

Tags: employee wellbeing, mental health, coronavirus, working from home,