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Businesses and employees have both had to adapt as a result of COVID-19.

Not only has this had a serious financial and socioeconomic impact but there has also been a substantial impact on the mental health and wellbeing of employees. With some employees are feeling isolated while working from home others are anxious about returning to their place of work; some employees are feeling exhausted from increased workloads and others are concerned about job security and financial pressures.

In a world filled with uncertainty and differing concerns what can employers do to ensure the wellbeing of their staff?

Open communication

Communication is essential and line management is key. Whether employees are attending their place of work, working from home or on furlough leave or any other leave of absence checking in with employees about their health and wellbeing (where appropriate to do so) will likely be appreciated.

Communication from employers can go a long way to encourage openness and trust and could prevent employees from feeling isolated or anxious. In addition, it may ensure that employers can manage any concerns employees may have which, if left unaddressed, could become greater issues.

Managing concerns

If an employee raises a concern with their employer it is important that the matter is handled sensitively, effectively and in good time.

There will be a number of reasons why an employee may raise a concern but dealing with the matter adequately is important. What constitutes ‘adequate’ will differ from person to person but employers should work closely with employees to understand and mitigate their concerns.

If a concern is not managed appropriately then it may develop into a number of greater issues such as a formal grievance, sickness absence or the need to instigate a performance management process. At worst, for employer and employee, it may result in an irreparable breakdown of the employment relationship and a potential claim at the employment tribunal.

How to help

Employers should be aware of company policies and available support functions so that they can ensure they understand how to best support staff and how to have open conversations about how the employee is feeling. These conversations and clear policies on how to act in certain situations, such as a during a sickness absence, will help create a positive culture around mental wellbeing.

If you are in doubt as to how to support your employees you should seek assistance and there are various resources available to help you to do this. Mind have provided helpful guidance by which may assist in encouraging open conversations in the workplace, click here for further information. In addition, our employment team can create or review existing policies which manage potentially difficult situations such as sickness absence or grievances as well as providing specific advice as to circumstances which you are finding difficult to resolve.

If you require any assistance, please do not hesitate to get in touch with our expert employment team by calling 0191 281 6151 or filling out the form below.

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