The world of work has changed, and it looks like new working practices are here to stay, but as we move to the new normal, findings show that the mental wellbeing of employees needs to be high on the agenda.
This year Mental Health Awareness Week centred around loneliness and highlighted how isolation impacts mental health, this is poignant as with new hybrid working practices in place, isolation can become prevalent amongst employees.
Louise Kennedy, Managing Director at Oculus HR said,
“The move to hybrid working is a great leap for many post-pandemic, however it does come with its flaws if not managed and supported correctly by employers. We are seeing more and more employers investing in creating a healthy work environment and they now see it makes good business sense, alongside supporting employees.”
Employers have a duty of care to staff, it is therefore vital to have the right mechanisms in place to provide the right support and create a culture that nurtures open communication. Statutory health and safety duties in the UK include taking reasonable care towards someone with mental health problems. The first thing employers or line managers need to be aware of is how approachable they are, and it should be a key priority to put an effective support system in place.
With hybrid working models in place across many businesses and an increase in remote working, ensuring communication channels are open is a key component. It’s important to show you care and have time for your staff, so ensuring regular reviews or catch ups may provide opportunities to open up and talk.
If a staff member makes the approach to discuss their mental health, employers and line managers need to avoid making any assumptions and assure the employee of the confidentiality of the discussion and respond in a considerate and caring manner. It may be necessary to seek internal or external advice to ensure the situation is approached in the best way possible, or businesses may be able to make adjustments to an employees working day so that they feel more comfortable in the workplace.
If an employee has been absent from work, it is important to carry out a return-to-work meeting on their return. This shows that as an employer you have staff and their wellbeing at the forefront and provides an opportunity to find out about the absence and if anything can be put in place for support.
While you’re not expected to be an expert in mental health, you do need to be aware of how mental health can affect the working day. There are many expert organisations in place if you need guidance or advice surrounding mental health, or you can seek support from HR.
In summary, care, consideration, and communication are key when supporting employees with mental health problems. Oculus HR provide trusted support and advice on how to deal with mental health in the workplace and our employment law expert can also ensure you understand your duties and provide the knowledge to help support the process.
To find out more about the support packages available for businesses contact firstname.lastname@example.org