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Mental Health Action During Lockdown

The global pandemic and requirement to work from home can have a devastating effect on an employee’s mental health.

Employees often find it hard to confess to having mental health issues and working from home makes communication even harder. In ‘normal’ situations, research has found that 79% of employees did not disclose the true reason for their absence. It would be interesting to see what level it will increase to at the end of the coronavirus situation.

The loneliness of working away from colleagues, concern about being able to complete the tasks, a lack of routine and the worry over future employment are but a few points to consider. Indeed, children and childcare can increase stress levels, and the closure of schools, home teaching and a potential lack of disposable income to keep children entertained while off school is a point for employers to consider.

Historically, employers have not been forthcoming in giving focus on their employee’s mental health. The current business environment provides HR time to place greater emphasis on this issue, especially as individuals are most likely to be struggling at this worrying time.

At the strategic level, every company should have a Mental Health Policy. However, only 21% of companies do. It should link to other organisational policies and procedures, such as flexible working and stress management. Absence management policies and procedures should include mental health and support the timely referral to specialist help where appropriate. Now is the time to make these changes.

Line managers play an essential part in supporting employees, and it is vital they have guidance and training to be able to deal with situations from a position of understanding and confidence. While an employee is ‘furloughed’ they are permitted to complete training. Now is the time to do this.

It is very easy to ‘forget’ employees when they are working from home. Maintaining regular contact ensures employees do not feel isolated and, if they are struggling, an action plan will be essential for an effective return to work. Now is the time to have a regular procedure to stay in touch.

Contact Coppice HR to discuss how your organisation can cope with this situation when the world returns to a form of normality. Now is the time as it will be frantic when we get out of lockdown and get the economy moving. Act now and call 07814 008478 or email paul@coppicehr.com

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