There is no denying that employees are indispensable for the growth and day-to-day management of any organisation, yet employee mental well-being is not being prioritised.

Mental well-being is an all-encompassing term that covers an individual’s emotional, psychological, and social well-being. For an individual to have a sense of positive mental well-being, a range of factors must be taken into consideration. Being part of a supportive and nurturing work environment plays a significant role in this.

In this blog, we provide you with an understanding of the importance of supporting your staff, how this affects the workplace if employees feel they are not being supported and the steps you can take to ensure you are supporting them ability.

Dealing with challenging emotions using Employee Assistance Programmes

With some staff returning to work and others continuing to WFH, each and every one of us will be going through a range of challenging emotions. What’s worse, there may be sudden changes that affect how employees work which may trigger a new set of feelings and in result, make it harder to adjust.

When employers take measures to actively listen to their staff without judgement and implement programs that aim to support them, employees can end up having a more satisfactory experience at work. This tends to make employees feel more inclined to contribute ideas and work with other team members.
  • Implement an EAP (Employee Assistance Program). This is a basic way to show your employees that you are there to support their mental and emotional well-being needs. EAP’s are programmes that can be implemented by employers to help employees that may be having personal problems. These programmes can range from counselling to referral services for employees
  • Introduce internal surveys so you can get a quick overview of how your staff feel they are being supported in the workplace and how they are coping in their working environment (whether they have returned to work or are continuing to work from home). This also enables you as an employer to make quick fixes in partnership with your employees and see if there are any gaps in what you can be doing. Every’s Documents & Policies module enables employers to quickly distribute documents such as surveys to all or selected staff within a school, with real-time access to who has and hasn’t completed each document
  • Schedule in one-to-one meetings to check in on how your staff are feeling with various aspects of work or if there are any external influences affecting them. From there, look at a plan to see which areas you can support them with. Signposting staff to various resources where they can seek further mental health support if they need it is also a big step in showing that you are there for them

Stone King Solicitors – What is a “Duty of care”?

We spoke to Senior HR Consultant, Penny Walters, from Stone King Solicitors for insight into how employers can demonstrate a “duty of care” in this new environment we find ourselves in, as well as how businesses can support and signpost staff where necessary.

“As humans we like certainty, so the last six months have offered little comfort in this respect. This, together with the challenges of balancing our work and domestic lives has resulted in heightened anxiety levels.

As employers, you have a “duty of care” to your employees which means you must do all you reasonably can to support their health, safety and wellbeing. You will have completed a Covid-19 risk assessment, but have you considered how your staff will be feeling in the first few weeks of what we are tentatively calling “the new normal”? How can you demonstrate your “duty of care” in this context? Here are a few suggestions:  

  • Line managers are the link between the senior leadership and your employees – they should know them best. Ask them to hold brief 1:1 return to work meetings with their team members to check on their wellbeing, share the Covid-19 risk assessment again and invite questions or concerns. Consider any adjustments for staff who may be struggling, being mindful that you have an obligation to make reasonable adjustments if someone has a disability.  
  • Simply ask the question “how can we help?”. If necessary signpost colleagues who are struggling to locate any internal resources you may have such as Employee Assistance Provider (EAP) colleagues who are trained mental health first aiders or external resources like NHS website “10 tips if you are worried about coronavirus”. You can also direct them towards mental health charities such as Mind, or the Education Support Partnership ESP
  • Hold daily 5 – 10 minute “stand up” briefings before the start of the school day to communicate any key messages, taking steps to make sure communication is consistent, creating a culture of openness and transparency
  • Take time to say “thank you”, acknowledge the challenges and focus on the positive impact their work has had. Ensure that positive messages dominate
  • Create opportunities for having fun as a team wherever possible such as lunchtime walking clubs (following social distancing advice), and recognise that rebuilding the team is integral to making people feel secure at work. This is based on mutual respect, empathy and encouraging a “we are all in this together” attitude”

What are the implications of having staff that do not feel their mental well-being is being supported in the workplace?

  • Increased absences – When staff are unhappy or dissatisfied in the workplace, whether that be from internal or external influences, there can be an increase in absenteeism, which can have a detrimental impact to a company if not resolved. To identify an employee that may be struggling, you can look into spotting trends in your HR data and see whether there are patterns of absences with employees on particular dates. From here, you should arrange a meeting with them to find out what the problem is and discuss how you can support them. Read more about other possible reasons for absenteeism in the workplace
  • Lack of productivity and contribution – When an employee has a lack of motivation or feels disconnected from their work, their productivity and contribution to collaborative work will decrease. Over the past few years and in light of COVID-19, it has become popular for large businesses especially to make an active effort to support their employees’ well-being, whether that be by offering them free counselling sessions, supporting flexible working or by making more effort to recognise good work. Businesses that adapt to this way of supporting their staff are likely to see a visible increase in company productivity and profits. Read here for ways you can invest in your employee development
  • Increased employee turnover – Lack of employee contribution, productivity and increased absences all play a significant part in employee turnover. Once a business starts to neglect their staff, this will be made clear when employees begin to turnover at a quicker rate. Read here about how you can improve employee retention
  • Damaged business reputation – Along with previous points, once staff mental well-being begins to deteriorate, other than increasing the turnover of staff, this has a negative impact on the reputation of the company. Companies such as Innocent have received praise in the news for their conscious efforts to support the physical and mental well-being of their staff. For example, they have set up group lunches every day for the first two weeks of a new starter joining the company to give them the chance to meet their new colleagues and others around the company
  • Negative customer experiences – If an employee is unhappy and fails to deliver positive customer service or neglects the customer’s needs, this behaviour will reflect on the consumer. When a customer starts to have negative experiences and lack of customer satisfaction, they are going to be less likely to continue using the company’s product and/or service, which then reduces the customer retention rate and may ultimately reduce company profits. It is crucial that employers spot the signs of an employee that may be struggling before the business starts gaining a bad reputation and as a result, begins to lose its once loyal customers.

How will I know if my staff are having a hard time?

  • Are they taking longer than usual to complete their work? This may be a sign that your employees are distracted or struggling to concentrate which can have a direct impact on how productive they are throughout the day. There is then the risk that they may fall behind with work, potentially having a negative knock-on effect for other team members. A small way you can lift the pressure off your employee is by reminding them to take regular breaks with their work and supporting them with prioritising each task
  • Is your employee becoming increasingly agitated over seemingly small matters? Becoming agitated over seemingly small matters is a tell-tale sign of stress. This may be where an employee may quickly become annoyed over being asked a question by a colleague. It is important to understand that there will be a time for all employees where they experience feelings of agitation and you need to understand the importance of finding the route of why they are becoming stressed in the first place instead of placing judgement on them
  • Are they complaining about lack of sleep or their inability to focus on their work? Sleep is not a luxury and it should not be seen as so. In order to function productively on a day-to-day basis, employees, as well as employers, should aim to consistently ensure they are getting enough sleep. At the same time, getting too much sleep may be cause for concern. If someone keeps mentioning that they are not getting enough, or are getting too much sleep, these can both be harmful and should be looked into if they continue to come up in conversation. Read here about how sleep relates to an individuals mental health
  • Do they generally seem less happy or easy-going? This may be a sign of an underlying problem that should be addressed as soon as possible in order to prevent any problems escalating into something that may not be as manageable. It is also important to check in on the louder and more outgoing employees to see how they are coping with their work and see if there is anything you can do to support them too

How can Every help you to support your staff well-being?

With the help of Every HR, you have the ability to spot trends in absenteeism and lateness, and easily distribute documents to your staff to make sure they are aware of what support is available to them.

Learn more to see how we can support your staff well-being initiatives by clicking on the button below.