Supporting the wellbeing of your employees during the COVID-19 crisis

In these current and unprecedented times, the wellbeing of our workforce has become even more of a concern, in amongst and no doubt competing with our new set of anxieties over everything COVID-19.   Overnight, we’ve gone from encouraging employers to allow more flexible remote working for staff to assist with our growing wellbeing concerns, to being forced to send entire workforces home to work remotely for the foreseeable future.

‘Careful what you wish for’

It feels a bit of a ‘careful what you wish for’ situation.  In fact, I think we’re all getting this eerie feeling that Earth has just sent us all to our rooms to have a big think about how we’ve been living our lives.  Perhaps some things needed to be changed, but the drastic adaptation we’re all having to make due to recent events is certainly not something any of us could have realistically prepared for.  Whilst a structured remote working pattern may be of benefit to people’s schedules to ease the burden of our hectic lives, I’m sure very few of us are feeling the benefits of the current situation we’ve been thrown into.  Loneliness, isolation, loss of support networks and lack of routine are among some of the key issues many people will be facing.  Don’t even get me started on the home-schooling fiasco….

How will these changes impact us?

What we need to consider during these difficult times is the impact of these changes, both on ourselves and on our employees.  For many employees, naturally, their priority and main worry will initially be about their own health and that of their families, which brings about a whole new set of anxieties that many of us may have never considered before.  However, longer-term as we #flattenthecurve, for many the anxieties will shift to issues such as job insecurity, financial concerns, how to integrate back into society and for some whether we actually prefer self-isolation?!  I strongly suspect ‘cabin fever’ may become a diagnosable condition before we see 2020 out.

It is vitally important that during these weeks, perhaps months, of our new reality that organizations put steps in place to monitor the impact of these changes on employees.  Those of us with generally good mental health have probably been experiencing some of our darker days in the last month, so for those among us within the workforce who were already experiencing mental health conditions prior to the arrival of COVID-19 in our lives, the situation is likely to be incredibly troublesome.

Useful resources

Below is a list of resources that may be of use either for individuals or organizations to share with their employees:

  • Mental health charity Mind has published a free tool-kit and guidance on coronavirus and well-being: https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/coronavirus-and-your-wellbeing/#TakingCareOfYourMentalHealthAndWellbeing
  • If you offer an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP), take this opportunity to remind your employees about the service, how it can help and how to access it. Make sure you know what support is available so you can signpost staff.
  • Recommend daily Wellness Apps for employees – research suggests that regular check-in activity can help the management of lower-level stress and anxiety.  The suggestions below are offering free support during the current global crisis:
  • Focus on building personal resilience: One of the best free resources for this is the online i-resilience tool developed by Robertson Cooper. This fully validated online questionnaire generates a detailed personal resilience report so that people can understand where they draw their own resilience from and how to further develop it. https://www.robertsoncooper.com/iresilience/
  • For those based locally, West Cumbrian based TogetherWe are offering counselling and mental health support. They are also delivering stress management courses via Zoom (which can obviously be accessed by anyone).  Email referral@togetherwe.co.uk for more information and to refer employees to this service.

Above all, with the global Covid-19 situation constantly changing and differing advice being given, many people are anxious about what they should do to safeguard their health and wellbeing.  Taking the time to regularly check in with employees during this difficult phase may make their return back to the workplace later in the year, a smoother transition.

For further advice or to find out more about Lakeland Capabilities, contact us for more details.