Over the past few years, we have seen a large shift towards the importance of providing a flexible workplace for staff. Before the pandemic, flexibility had become a true selling point of many organisations, attracting more talent, and retaining more employees.
COVID-19 has forced almost all organisations to allow for some level of flexibility when it comes to the location of work, with many opting for a fully remote work style or a hybrid model. Initially, this flexibility had undeniable benefits to the majority of staff, as it allowed for them to have less travel time, more time with the kids, comfortable attire, just to name a few. However, over longer, more permanent periods, some no longer see it as a benefit, and can start to feel negatively about being stuck at home and not being in the office.
On a mass scale, remote working can become problematic and have detrimental effects on mental health due to feelings of isolation and disconnect, lack of motivation and a decrease in productivity. In such situations, it is easy to feel powerless as an employer or as a team leader.
Employees may be reluctant to seek help due to the stigma around mental health. Many may feel like their employers will judge them or punish them if they speak up, which in the current climate could be detrimental to their position. It is your job as an organisation to ensure your employees feel heard, and the stigma around mental health is abolished.
These are a few tips on how to create a positive culture regarding mental health:
Lead by example from the top down
If managers and role models in the business take part in wellness activities those below them will feel more supported to follow suit. You could also provide your managers with mental health training to ensure they understand how to better deal with and accommodate staff with mental health issues.
Create a mental health policy
Create a policy with HR that is both fair and reasonable for staff and managers. Make sure you start by defining what you want to accomplish and have those shine through in the policy.
Offer screening tools
Keeping in theme with being open about mental health at work, providing free screening for employees gives them the chance to assess their risks and therefore, to seek support if needed.
Introduce opportunities for employees to focus on their mental health and wellbeing both in and out of the office. Having opportunities within the business to have fresh fruit available at the office or access to gym classes, can be one option, or even having access to wellness apps like Headspace for meditation and stress relief can be another great idea.
If Melbourne has shown us anything, it’s that the virus can be unpredictable and appear at any time. So, it is important to have base policies and procedures in place to ensure your staff are happy and healthy. If your staff feel cared for and understand that their mental health is prioritised, even if they don’t appreciate working from home, they are more likely to be more productive and motivated staff.