This month, we’re highlighting Mental Health Awareness Week, which runs from 18th-24th May. This year the focus is on kindness. The event poses a reminder that a little kindness goes a long way in helping each other through increasingly challenging circumstances.
It’s been reported by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) that up to 25 million people in the country are now suffering from high levels of anxiety, so it’s never been more important to reach out to those struggling with their mental health. This increase can be attributed to our constant connectivity and newly quarantined lifestyle indoors. For those who can work remotely, working longer hours has become the new normal, and the lines between work and personal life have become even more blurred. For other workers, there are redundancies and furlough plans to try and keep business afloat, which have caused concerns around personal finances.
As a business, fostering a place where employees can talk about their mental health and their concerns is key, not only during times of crisis but going forward too. Sometimes a simple conversation is enough to break the cycle. Also, allowing employees to say they’re not feeling their best, and to know that it will be met with compassion and kindness, can lift a weight from the employee and build trust with their employer.
In addition to this, it’s paramount to take time to remember that your employees are dealing with different stresses and workloads that can’t be seen as easily. Employers are keen to keep service levels and productivity the same as normal, however with new challenges arising every day, having patience with people can be its own act of kindness.
So, what can you do as an employer to help?
- A simple “thank you, I appreciate the work you’ve done” can go a long way when reward and recognition budgets can be difficult.
- Remind staff about their work/life balance and encourage people to switch off after certain times (no sending emails out of working hours).
- Encourage and foster an environment where people can talk about their mental health and why not use a team meeting to ask how people are coping? Leave the work to one side and just chat with each other as you would do if you were in an office.
As we continue to adjust to the drastic changes in our personal and work lives, we must take the opportunity to look outwards to others, to ensure that even remotely, we can support each other to improve our mental wellbeing.