The COVID-19 pandemic has been, understandably, a very stressful time for everyone – changes in routine, lifestyle, and more. Work-from-home has led to increased stress for employees, with 37% of respondents to the CIPD’s Health and Wellbeing at Work report disclosing that stress-related absence had increased in the last year.
That being said, there have been some positive impacts of work-from-home. Research conducted by Flexibility Works found that 41% of those asked saved money on travel to and from work, and 33% reported more quality family time.
However, there are clear negatives that cannot be ignored. According to the research, 51% of those asked missed social interaction with colleagues, and 26% felt more stressed than usual. In addition to this, research carried out by RSPH found that 67% of participants felt disconnected from colleagues, 46% taking less exercise, and 37% suffering from disturbed sleep.
So, what can be done to improve mental health in the workplace, whilst working from home? Since a large number of our customers either work from home or run a business that employs remote workers, we want to share some tips!
Five tips to support staff mental health
Communication is a two-way street. Keeping up regular communication between your team will eliminate feelings of isolation and loneliness. It’s important not to lose the social element of working, why not schedule a weekly team social call, if resources allow? The best thing you can do for your team ensures they can enjoy WFH!
Construct fair and effective policies
Talk to your staff and find out exactly what they need from you to feel safe, secure and supported. Ask for feedback on current policies and what they’d like to see from you as an employer. This will ensure your team feels reassured that you are dedicated to their well-being at work.
Take an interest in employee wellbeing
Employees and colleagues will value conversations around well-being and how mental health can be improved during WFH. Starting conversations around work-life balance and boundaries will ensure the team understands the importance of looking after their wellbeing. According to research conducted by HSE, 17.9 million working days were lost in 2019/20, as a result of stress, depression, or anxiety. Providing your team with appropriate resources to ensure they can look after their mental health and lead to a positive culture change. If budgets allow, why not invite a mental health specialist to a conference call for your colleagues to hear from?
Promote healthy routines & flexibility
It can be difficult to set clear boundaries while working from home, with workspaces merging into living spaces and difficulties switching off. According to the ONS, those working from home did on average six hours of unpaid overtime per week in 2020. Promoting healthy routines and flexible working will be both beneficial for your teams well-being and their results. Putting less pressure on strict work schedules will allow your team to switch off outside work and create a happier, more productive team.
It’s important not to wait until there’s a problem to check in on your team. By having regular conversations with your team about how they are feeling, how things are going, they will feel reassured that they can bring their thoughts and concerns to you.
There are so many ways that you can improve mental health in the workplace during these difficult times, all linked closely with simply just talking! Having regular conversations about mental health will ensure colleagues feel open to sharing their concerns and know exactly what they can do to help their own mental health. Checking in on your team while working from home is vital – ask your colleagues, friends, and managers how they are. Mental health is all about supporting each other, so let’s make sure to do our bit.