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Wellbeing | Six tips for managing your workers' mental health during lockdown

Six tips for managing your workers' mental health during lockdown
Promoted by Six tips for managing your workers' mental health during lockdown

Tiger Recruitment recently hosted a webinar with three mental health and wellbeing specialists: Jo Yarker from Affinity Health at Work, Business Psychologist Julie Osborn and Ruth Cooper-Dickson from Champs Consulting.

We brought them together to discuss how employers should best manage and support their workers’ mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic. Below are their six top tips to help employers in the coming weeks and months. 

1. Managers must look after their own mental health

Considering the unprecedented nature of the current situation, you may be struggling with personal stresses alongside work demands and supporting your staff. So, first and foremost, you need to look after your own mental health. Ruth explains, “managers are humans [and so] employees need to give them a little bit of slack as well”. 

Communicating boundaries and expectations with your team is key to helping with this. Jo advises establishing where and when you’re going to work and “communicat[ing] it to...the people you’re working with”. While working remotely, it’s important to remember you probably won’t be able to complete the same workload that you would in the office – and that’s OK. “It’s accepting we’ve just got to be kind to ourselves. Most of us are just coping and getting by”, Jo explains. 

2. Keep up the wellbeing check-ins with your team

Now is the time to initiate regular one-on-one social check-ins with your team members. Use this as an opportunity to learn more about your team’s home life as this is key to building trust. Ruth explains that even if you’re not used to talking to your team in a personal way, “if the [check-in] is coming from a genuine and authentic place, people [see it as] a real opportunity for them to open up” about the state of their mental wellbeing. Keep in mind these wellbeing check-ins should be on the employees’ terms, so it’s integral to ask how often you should set up these calls on an individual basis. 

When holding group catch-ups with your team, Ruth explains that a good way to gauge everyone’s mood is to “use a poll at the start of every meeting [with a] one-to-ten scale - it’s a good temperature-check to see how people are feeling”. If someone is feeling low, follow up after the group call finishes. As a rule of thumb, try to encourage everyone to contribute in group meetings (especially those who are introverted naturally), as this will help engage all members of your team.  

Finally, keep in mind your employees may be dealing with external issues that could have an effect on their mental health. These could include domestic abuse, caring responsibilities, bereavement or monetary/health concerns. Remember, your job isn’t to solve these issues - you are a listening ear and there to support and provide resources where you can. 

3. Look for signs of mental ill health

“[The signs of mental ill health] are difficult to pick up [via video call]”, Julie explains. If you know your team well enough, you may pick up on “changes to how someone usually is, [like] sleeping patterns disrupted or appetite changes”. If you notice something off with one of your team members, “just taking the time to say ‘How are you? I’ve noticed that you....’ could be incredibly powerful [in opening up a conversation]”, she continues. If you’re going to have these conversations with your employees, “make sure you’ve got somebody you trust to go and talk it over with as [it] can be difficult”, says Julie.

For those team members who have known mental health struggles, “just making sure that person is supported [by] re-communicating out to everybody the support available [is essential]. I think these things are often buried and people don’t know where or how to ask [for it]”, Ruth explains. When talking one-on-one, ask them if they’re comfortable sharing their triggers or coping strategies with you, so you’re aware of what to look out for and how to help if they’re struggling.

4. Communication is key to supporting furloughed staff

Given the sudden and unprecedented nature of furlough leave, staff members may have questions and concerns about their place within the company. Julie clarifies that “it’s a good idea to remind people of [the resources and support available to them] and that they can check in with their managers”. If a furloughed employee “feels valued and stays connected”, adds Jo, this will pave the way for an easier transition back to work when the time comes.

5. Use the resources available to support mental health

There are a few internal solutions a workplace can put in place for those who need support with their mental wellbeing, like mental health first aiders or a wellness action plan. For members of staff called upon to help and support their team through these programs, it’s important to “make sure they’re equipped [and supported with how best to support people working remotely], as they’re an employee first and foremost”, Ruth explains. Alongside any internal resources, those recommended include:

6. Start planning for the transition back to the office now

When looking to the future and transitioning back to work, managers should remember “we’ve [all] had very different experiences, so allowing time for people to check in with each other [and share] strategies and tips” is a good idea, Julie says. Once you’ve formed your back-to-work strategy, let your team know what they can expect from the office environment. “Giving little advanced primers [means that] when people get to the actual return, it’s not so daunting or unknown,” Jo adds. 

Ultimately, the coronavirus pandemic has given organisations an opportunity to not only “embrace [flexible working going forward], [but also offers] a fresh slate to hopefully create a really kind culture where compassion is at the heart”, Ruth concludes. 

You can watch the webinar in full here.

Watch the Webinar


About the author

David Morel is the CEO/Founder of London’s leading secretarial recruitment agency, Tiger Recuitment. David founded Tiger in 2001 and has written extensively in the press and wider media advising both employers looking to recruit and job seekers on best recruitment practice.

020 7917 1801 / [email protected]

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