After more than a year of lockdown restrictions, it is no surprise that many people are raring to get back to normal life again, but that is not the case for everyone. As people start to use workplaces more often, perhaps as before or perhaps now adopting a hybrid model, employers need to keep in mind that their employees will be going through another huge life adjustment, and this may be taxing on mental health.
By acknowledging the extra pressures, including health-related anxiety, that will be on employees as they transition back to life in the workplace, employers must be supportive and stay one step ahead to prevent more serious mental health issues from arising down the line.
When it comes to mental health and wellbeing, prevention is always favourable over cure. As problems progress, they get more complicated to resolve, more challenging for the person experiencing them and can lead to an impact on the business if a person needs to take time off as a result.
With this in mind, here are some steps employers can take to ensure they are taking care of their employees’ mental wellbeing in the return to the office.
Provide suitable self-care resources
A simple way to ensure staff are taking care of their own mental wellbeing is providing or signposting to resources such as self-help activities, meditation, or resilience training. These give employees mechanisms to help themselves at the first hint of mental turmoil and resources such as resilience training may prevent those feelings from arising at all in the first place.
Wrkit’s Wellbeing product, POWR, is designed to empower workers to proactively manage their mental and physical health. It provides plans across life, mind, work, food, activity and sleep to offer holistic, preventative support for employees.
When used in conjunction with the Surveys product, which bypasses conscious bias to measure how people actually feel, the POWR platform becomes an incredibly useful tool as the surveys can pick up on issues that the person is not yet fully aware of.
These surveys can flag when it looks like someone might need professional support to get their wellbeing back on track, and access to these professionals is the next thing employers need to consider in the return to the workplace.
Mental health first aiders and professional care
Not all issues will be able to be resolved through self-help, so all businesses should have measures in place for when problems progress.
This could be in the form of colleagues who volunteer to train as mental health first aiders or giving employees access to professional counselling and therapy. If a problem has developed to the point of needing support from a professional, it is still important to get help as soon as possible.
Access to professional support should be proactively communicated so that employees do not have to ask a member of the HR team or a line manager as this could put people off seeking help. Being open about how employees can access help should they need it will begin to establish a company culture in which people are not ashamed or worried to admit that they are struggling, which is really important in overall employee wellbeing.
Creating an open and honest culture
By creating a culture in which mental health issues of all scales are normalised, employees will feel more comfortable turning to their colleagues for support. They will also feel like their company cares about them and wants them to get better, rather than feeling like it is something that they must hide for fear of judgment.
An atmosphere that accepts that a huge number of people face struggles with their mental wellbeing will empower people to get the help they need earlier on, once again supporting the idea that prevention is the best cure.
Take work-life balance inspiration from the pandemic
The pandemic has proved that, on the whole, people can be trusted to be productive when not in an office and when not necessarily working standard nine to five hours. Better work-life balance will improve overall employee wellness and engagement, boosting productivity and job satisfaction.
Employers should take inspiration from this and, when possible, allow employees to take control over their work-life balance by working flexible hours or from home if they want to.
These kinds of policies and measures tell employees that their employers are invested in their wellbeing and are there to support them when needed. Making people feel valued in their jobs and having outstanding support for when mental wellbeing does take a dip are both critical factors in improving employee wellness and should be central as people readjust to life back in the workplace.