Coming Back After COVID – How Can Workplaces Support Their Employees?

It’s an exciting time for businesses, as more and more people are allowed to go back to work as the restrictions continue to ease. After working from home for over a year, this can be a bit of a shock to the system!

Of course there are a lot of things that need to happen for people to come back to work. There are a whole host of general workplace safety guidelines you need to follow, and this is what a great deal of workplaces are focussing on. But one of the areas we feel is being overlooked is the mental health support. Because Covid-19 has taken its toll on all of us, and if we want to ensure employees are as happy, healthy and productive as possible, employers need to understand the impact the pandemic has had on the workforce, and what they can do to support employees returning to work.

The Real Impact Of Covid

Covid has changed a lot of things, particularly when it comes to business. Companies have had to pivot quickly and learn how to operate in the new world. But while most have managed to adapt to this new normal, there is one area they have missed. The mental health of employees who have spent a year working from home, dealing with the extra anxiety and lack of mental health support. So while you might be excited to bring your employees back to the office, they might not be in the same mental shape as they once were. Just a few of the impacts Covid has had on adult mental health include:

  • 60% of adults have felt their mental health is worse.
  • People with experience of mental health have seen their mental health worsen.
  • Those without previous experience of mental health problems have experienced poor mental health in lockdown.

So you see, even the most resilient employees may have found lockdown tough, and many will benefit from some extra support when it comes to returning to work. We talk more about the full impact of Covid-19 on mental health in this blog, and why isolation is so hard on us, so if you’d like to find out more, give those ones a read!

Productivity and Mental Health

At the end of the day, businesses want their employees to be happy, healthy and productive, because that’s how they get the most value from each person. But mental health plays a huge role in how productive a person can be, which is why forward-thinking businesses are taking the initiative and offering mental health support to all of their employees. After all, good mental health at work and good management go hand in hand, and there’s strong evidence that workplaces with higher levels of mental wellbeing have up to 12% higher productivity rates. And that’s before we look at the benefits of proactive mental health support in the workplace – like improved stress resilience, boosted creativity, higher productivity, higher levels of empathy and increased morale. And when you give employees a choice about the kind of support they would like to receive, that’s where the magic happens.

What Can Employers Do?

As part of the ‘bringing people back to work’ project, businesses need to focus not just on keeping them physically safe, but providing mental health support as we navigate the next phase of the Covid journey. The issue many employers are facing is that every employee’s needs are different, and what works for one might not work for another. So how can businesses provide the right support to their employees, when it’s almost impossible to know what that looks like? Well, there are a few things you can look into, including:

Providing space for treatments: Many people find seeking some form of treatment, whether that’s counselling or acupuncture, can be hugely beneficial to their mental health. And while you don’t want all of your employees leaving all of the time, letting them know that you are happy with them taking some time during the week for treatments, without docking pay, can be really helpful. It reduces the stress of having to choose between support or work, and means employees are able to get the help they need.

Brief Managers: Support comes from the top down, so every manager in the business should be briefed on the potential mental health implications of COVID-19, and their specific roles and responsibilities in relation to supporting staff. This may include setting up regular check-ins with employees, raising awareness or encouraging a culture of open communication and acceptance.

Take Action: If you want to really step up your game, the best thing you can do is provide real, hands-on support for your employees yourself – using qualified professionals of course. By offering support and treatments as a benefit to your employees, you are demonstrating your commitment to their mental and overall health. This will lead to happier, more productive and harder working employees.

At The Holistic Healthcare Group, we offer an extensive range of employee wellbeing options, and can work with you to create a support programme and strategy that suits your business and your employees. Whether that’s workshops demonstrating techniques, access to our MELP mental health support app, or 1-2-1 therapist support delivered in your workplace, it’s our job to help support your employees. If you would like to know more about how you can support your employees mental health as they return to work, just get in touch to arrange your free consultation.