These are turbulent times and nearly everyone one of us are going through the mental stress of coping with the changes brought about by the pandemic. Now, it has become more important than ever for organisations to confront the spike in emotional challenges faced by employees. Apart from the health impacts of COVID-19, the pandemic has also led to a disconnection from friends and family, social isolation, lockdowns and quarantines. People are now more than ever experiencing a feeling of anxiety, helplessness, grief and depression. Thus organisations and in turn, HR managers need to be alert of the signs of mental health issues among employees and come out with ways to support them efficiently.
Signs to Look Out For
A recent survey conducted on Indian employees revealed that fifty per cent of them are concerned about an uncertain future and this was one of the top stress factors, followed by personal finances and career growth. The survey found out that 28% of employees working from home reported burnout with 48% of them feeling stressed due to task deadlines. Also, 35% of employees working remotely were worried about self/ family’s mental health.
With high levels of stress emerging among employees, the faster it is acted upon, the better it is for employees. Employers need to be alert of uncharacteristic behaviour from employees like erratic behaviour, mood swings, anger or frustration. One should also keep an eye on low levels of engagement or lack of motivation which can also be signs of mental health issues.
Sudden changes in eating or sleeping behaviour like regularly missing lunch or lack of sleep can indicate that it’s time to intervene and help the person out.
Ways to Support Employees Mental Well-Being in a Post-Pandemic Era
It is especially important for organisations now to take extra measures to support employees, make them feel safer and secure and encourage them to discuss any issues they face. Here are some of the ways organisations can ensure the mental well-being of employees in a post-COVID world:
Support an Open Culture
Similar to the manner organisations need to promote open conversation about mental health in the workplace, it is equally important to support an open culture by having an open discussion about the future with the employees via video messages, circulars or conferences. Stress and anxiety can be eased to a big extent if companies can reassure employees about their future job security and salaries.
Addressing the mental wellness of employees is a key factor to thrive in a post-pandemic world. As per a study by the University of Warwick, companies which address employee wellness are likely to witness a growth in productivity of up to 12 per cent. By keeping the stigma, denial and shame in the past, companies should establish their work culture with complete awareness of mental health. It is crucial to hold discussions around mental health issues and talk about real-life scenarios in meetings involving the employees and management staff. Additionally, workplace activities should be conducted around mental health topics and HR managers should host weekly discussion sessions with the employees – in groups as well as one-to-one sessions to speak about any issues they are facing. HRs can also conduct virtual meet-ups involving both remote and onsite employees for light-hearted conversations and bond-building.
Launch Policies and Employee Assistance Programs
To emphasise the gravity of the mental health situation, mental health policies should be put in place to prevent harassment and discrimination. Employee assistance programs in the form of workshops or webinars, both in-person and online should be launched to guide employees towards healthy living. They must be encouraged to take time to ‘relax or de-stress’, indulge in exercise and eat balanced meals. HR managers can also offer toolkits and resources to employees to operate productively.
These are tough times no doubt which is why organisations need to maintain open lines of communication and keep a check on employees mental health with all the resources and innovations available to them. After all, employees are the biggest asset to an organisation and it really pays off when you take good care of them.