As we approach a second lockdown and employees return to working from home, HR Consultant Lucy Cotterell offers some guidance and tips aimed at helping managers to ensure they can support their team’s health and well-being.

With the Centre for Mental Health charity predicting that up to 10 million people (almost 20% of the population) will need either new or additional mental health support as a direct consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic, managers are undoubtedly going to see a rise in team members feeling overwhelmed, anxious or worried at this time.

Maintain a positive work/life balance 

It’s easy to work longer hours and take fewer breaks when working from home. In order to look after your own wellbeing it is important that you plan your working day to include breaks. Putting reminders in your diary to take a break and ensuring that you take at least a 30-minute lunch break will help you get into a routine. If you can, try to get some fresh air but if this is not possible at the very least ensure you have time away from your laptop.

Check in regularly  

Working from home can be isolating, having regular check-ins virtually can make a big difference to ensuring people still feel connected. Make sure regular check-ins are scheduled in advance as chat time and encourage colleagues to arrange their own catch ups. The meetings don’t have to be long, 10 minutes to catch up as you would when making a coffee in the office can make all the difference to someone’s day.

Create Wellness Action Plans 

The currently uncertainty is affecting everyone in different ways. Encouraging your team to complete a Wellness Action Plan (WAP) this is a great way for people to identify what they need to do to maintain their own wellbeing. If they are comfortable to share this with you, this could be looked at and kept up to date during 1-2-1s.

Encourage your team to use the support tools available 

If you have Mental Health Champions and an Employee Assistance Programme in place, make sure your team know about it and where to find it.

Signs that a team member may be feeling overwhelmed, anxious or worried may not always be obvious and while no one expects managers to become counsellors or doctors an awareness of some of the early signs to look out for is important. These could be:

  • poor concentration
  • being easily distracted
  • worrying more
  • finding it hard to make decisions
  • feeling less interested in day-to-day activities
  • low mood
  • feeling overwhelmed by things
  • tearfulness
  • tiredness and lack of energy
  • sleeping more or less
  • talking less and avoiding social activities
  • talking more or talking very fast, jumping between topics and ideas
  • finding it difficult to control your emotions
  • drinking more
  • irritability and short temper
  • aggression
  • regular short term absences
  • high staff turnover

This list is not exhaustive and displaying any of these signs it does not automatically mean that someone is experiencing mental health issues. It is therefore important that any concerns are discussed with your teams to ensure any intervention is early and helpful.

Open communication

We recognise that managers might feel worried about having conversations with their team’s and team members may be reluctant to share their feelings with their manager, however it is important that to encourage these conversations in order to promote a culture of openness around mental health and wellbeing.

Tips to help to start these conversations with your teams:

  • Start by explaining why you’re talking to the team about mental health and how you hope it will help employees to recognise their own mental health needs and seek support to look after it.
  • Encourage discussion. Ask people what they think early signs in others might be, and what advice they would give.
  • Make your team feel comfortable to talk about their own mental health and if you can, share your own experience.
  • Keep the discussion general don’t focus on individuals.
  • Continue to promote the mental health and wellbeing initiatives available across the wider organisation.
  • Start slowly, ask team member to say something that makes them happy. This kind of light touch activity starts to help employees feel more comfortable talking about their wellbeing in meetings.
  • Be approachable and continue to provide opportunities for employees to speak to you when they’re ready.’

If your managers would benefit from regular updates on a variety of HR topics, to keep them informed and open to date please get in touch today. Alternatively if you need support to set up Mental Health Champions and an Employee Assistance Programme in your workplace then please contact Lucy Cotterell on 01225 750000 or email we are here to help when you need it for as long as your need it.

Mogers Drewett

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