While Christmas is generally perceived to be ‘the most wonderful time of the year’, for some it can be a time of loneliness and depression. And given Lockdown 2.0 and the pandemic generally, levels of loneliness and depression are, sadly, very likely to increase this year.
Quite apart from the employer’s duty of care and obligations to do all they reasonably can to support their employees’ health, safety and well-being, there are a host of other reasons for being aware of what they can do to look after their employees. For instance, mental health issues can amount to a ‘disability’ in law, even if symptoms are occasional or better at some times than at others. Additionally, those employers taking an active role in supporting their employees’ mental health report higher levels of morale and motivation which leads to increased productivity and positive PR.
So, here are our top three tips for supporting your employees’ well-being this Christmas:
- Have regular diarised catch up meetings with employees especially with those who are working from home where isolation and loneliness can be keenly felt.
- Signpost employees to support options should they be required. These can be confidential in-house support/helplines or external organisations such as MIND or the Samaritans.
- Consider the use of Mental Health First Aiders (MHFAs) in your organisation. This is an option is becoming increasingly popular with many organisations. Well-trained mental first aiders will be able to recognise the early signs and symptoms of poor mental health and can provide a raft of support for someone who is struggling. It may be that the employee simply needs someone to talk to or for the MHFA to act as a conduit between the employee and their line manager if some of the stress is work related. MHFAs can also play a helpful part in signposting the employee to other support options which may be internal and/or external to the organisation.
Given that an average employee spends 90,000 hours at work over a lifetime the one gift that both can benefit from is an employer creating an environment where staff feel able to talk about mental health issues without stigma.