The strict lockdown rules of social distancing have presented many new challenges for us all. And news from Downing Street that these measures are going to remain in place beyond the end of April may have been difficult to hear. Especially for those who were already finding the lockdown tough.
The government has said that without enforced social distancing in place, the UK death rate could soar as a result of coronavirus and apply immense pressure on the NHS. Staying home, to slow the spread of the virus, will protect the NHS and save lives.
But with no end date to the lockdown or crisis in sight, many people may be feeling stressed or anxious, and could be struggling to cope.
In support of Stress Awareness Month, we wanted to share some advice on how you can combat and manage stress in your business when faced with extreme circumstances such as the current crisis.
As an employer, not only do you have a duty of care to protect the mental and physical well-being of employees. But you will also benefit from having happy and healthy people work for your business.
Whilst you may feel limited on what you can do due to the lockdown, there are still many ways in which you can support good mental health and well-being in your business, for all employees.
To help you get started, we have compiled a list for managing employee mental health during a crisis. Take a breather from your regular to-do list and find peace of mind through a wellness action plan for your business. Because knowing that employees are ok can also give you one less thing to worry about.
Starting points for your wellness action plan
Are employees furloughed, working reduced hours or working remotely? Set up a call schedule to keep in touch on a regular basis. Use video where possible so that you can visibly see how employees are doing during lockdown.
2.But remember to switch off too
Remind employees who are working to take regular screen breaks and discourage out-of-hours logins. Too much time online can be disadvantageous for mental well-being.
3.Be open and honest
Media coverage of coronavirus can cause worry and raise questions. It is important to be open and honest with employees about how your business is coping and any plans that could impact them.
4.Manage the message
Make sure your senior team are on the same page and sending the same message to employees. Even temporary changes to a person’s working pattern can be unsettling, be mindful and sensitive when communicating important updates to staff. We can help.
5.Spot the signs of stress
Knowing the signs of stress or burnout can help you to provide support before a situation gets worse. Low energy, headaches, insomnia, and irritability are just some of the signs to look out for. An employee showing signs of stress could benefit from a break or a confidential chat.
Reminding staff that support is there if and when they need it can be a good safety net for well-being. Share details of your Employee Assistance Programme if you have one or signpost extra support, such as Mental Health UK.
7.Regain a routine
The lockdown has disrupted the routines of many people. But routine can be beneficial for mental well-being. Employees who are working remotely need a routine that can work for them, consider working parents balancing childcare for example.
Those on furlough leave might benefit from an optional wellness timetable to maintain healthy habits. Remember that they cannot do work during furlough, but you can still check-in on their well-being.
8.Encourage healthy habits
Encouraging employees to take care of themselves is crucial during a crisis. Promote good hygiene and social distancing whilst reminding employees that daily exercise is vital.
9.Think outside the box
Get creative and lighten the mood when the time is right. How about a video quiz on a Friday afternoon to bring remote employees together and wind down for the weekend?
10.And don’t forget to breathe!
Daily breathing exercises can help combat stress. They can also ground and calm a person experiencing a panic attack. Share these helpful breathing exercises from the NHS with your team and don’t forget to try them yourself.
11.Call us for advice
Your workforce will consist of many unique and wonderful personality types. If you feel that you could do with some specific advice on wellness to meet the needs of your diverse team, give us a call. Our HR experience of SMEs is extensive, and we will find a solution that suits.