3 months ago by Melissa Kilday

The importance of employee wellbeing and mental health

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The importance of employee wellbeing and mental health has taken priority on many organisation’s agendas during the pandemic and post lockdown – the biggest question is how to address these issues as COVID, lockdown and the current economic state has caused further stress and anxiety to an already over-worked and over-worried work force.

Some people think that the stigma previously attached to talking about mental health has changed, however, recent statistics still show that 40% of employees don’t confide in their managers about their mental health concerns. So that poses the question, is the stigma really reduced? If you're a Manager, do you feel your employees would confide in you about any health issues? If not, what could you be doing to encourage it?

The effects and signs of mental health problems show in different ways, so it’s important that businesses implement processes and opportunities for staff to discuss their mental health and also provide potential options for them to gain mental wellness. It has to be said that more employers than ever are committed to employee health and well being, but, there is still room for improvement. Companies need to be proactive in their approach to support employee mental health, as people begin to show signs of “Covid fatigue”.

As competition for staff increases and retention is on the mind of every manager at the moment, caring about and addressing mental health concerns could be a way for businesses to help retain their employees, as studies show that a large percentage of employees want their employer to care about their mental health and would stay with an employer that is providing high quality mental health resources.

Some organisations may have implemented mental health benefits during the pandemic to offer support and may be now considering removing that support as the market place within most sectors is booming.  However, as restrictions ease, it seems that many employees are experiencing health issues, some of which could prove to be long-term. Even physical health issues such as long COVID and personal issues such as bereavement due to COVID are things presently affecting employees right now. So, even though to many we may be out the “other side”, for many they are currently still dealing with the very real impacts of the pandemic.  So, benefits and support are as important as ever. It’s important to note that of course Covid did not create the mental health crisis; 1 in 4 people were already dealing with anxiety, depression, burn out and other mental health issues, however, the worries added to ‘everyday life’ due to Covid has caused further concerns.

With a relaxation of restrictions and a feeling of life going ‘back to normal’ with people going into the office, out to eat and to socialise, there may be a growing sense of ‘business as usual’, but it’s a real possibility that we may never return to the workplace we left in March 2020.

So what can you do to put mental health on the agenda?
- Continue to create a culture of open communication and its vital that you act on important feedback
- Regula check ins with your team, encourage wellbeing check-ins and give employees a voice to express their concerns
- Encourage healthy lifestyles and offer access to benefits that support this, e.g. wellness days, gym memberships, fruit in the office etc
- Offer flexible working to support personal choice, as many candidates are now requesting and only looking for roles that provide hybrid working and flexibility
- Offer training and support to employees on how to manage their mental health/gain the tools to be able to manage it
- Train managers on how to respond to and address mental health concerns of their employees, this will help to create a culture of understanding and professionalism towards discussing mental health concerns
- Think about providing external expert access to employees who need it

Mental wellness has a direct impact on business productivity and as we move forward out of the pandemic some organisations and sectors will still be repairing damage caused by COVID 19. So, if you would like more information on how to prioritise your people's mental wellness please get in touch as we have access to some fantastic mental health professionals that are able to help business leaders and employees.