Employers – Be Kind

This week has been Mental Health Awareness Week here in the UK.  With so many of us facing challenging circumstances right now, it is even more critical to be mindful of our own mental health and that of those close to us. With many campaigns over the years, aiming to remove the stigma around talking about mental health, treating ourselves and those around us with kindness is now becoming a more recognised concept.

This year’s theme has been #KindnessMatters.  Following the tragic death of Caroline Flack and other countless deaths due to online trolls, the #BeKind campaign was launched. It is helping to raise awareness about online bullying, and how we treat each other can affect mental health. The campaign aims to promote positive interactions on social media and to take a stand against online trolls.

Being kind as an employer

As many of us have been thrust into remote working, or not working at all, isolating alone or in a volatile relationship the Covid crisis means that now more than ever #kindnessmatters and keeping in touch with employees is vital.

Being a kind employer or manager can include:

  • Checking in with your employees on a regular basis; but don’t start talking shop straight away. Create a ‘water-cooler moment’, chat about normal things.
  • Offer online support programmes
  • Create non-working events, Friday drinks, quizzes, virtual lunches where team members can check in and see each other. Some maybe lonely.
  • Asking the difficult questions, ‘are you okay?’, ‘how are you coping?’, ‘can I help?’. You may be surprised at the responses you get.
  • Be empathetic to situations different from your own. No one wants a toddler sat on their knee for a Zoom call, but sometimes in this ‘working from home in a crisis’, we will need to.  You don’t know what happened pre-call.
  • Focus on productivity and not presenteeism.
Returning to work

While the government guidance is easing in terms of getting back to the office, ask yourself if getting staff into an office is possible for them all?  Some will be skipping back in, desperate for a sense of normality, some may be anxious and not want to be back in the workplace; while others for logistical reasons are unable to get to work as childcare and schools remain on the whole closed.

Managers can help with the anxiety and fears of staff, which may be centred on returning to work. As a manager, there are many things you can do to be a great boss and be kind to your staff. Some employees may suffer from anxiety and depression and returning to work can heighten these feelings.

The current situation needs some new approaches in employee support, where feelings of chronic stress and poor mental health can occur. As this situation is not going to change quickly, any steps should have a long-term view.

Be kind in your approach to those who aren’t easily able to get into the workplace.

  • If they can allow them to work from home, do so.
  • If you can extend furlough, do so.
  • If you can grant parental leave until childcare or schools open, do so.
  • If you can help them secure childcare, do so.

But more than anything, be kind in your thought process, everyone’s situation is different and potentially difficult.  Your employees will want the best for the business and will do what they can to help it survive, but theirs and their family’s health and wellbeing should come first.

Please remember to:

  • Keep staff up to date with accurate information and communicate often
  • Be understanding in that some people won’t agree with reopening
  • If certain employees are in higher-stress position, rotate them to roles with a lower stress factor
  • Be okay with people who choose to stay at home or need flexible working times
  • Understand that some people still fear getting the virus and a second wave
  • Make sure people know they can wear masks for as long as they choose
  • Support people who can now get a surgery that was on hold, get their nails done, or attend interviews
  • Encourage work breaks and allow time for colleagues to give social support to each other
  • Recognise that people may now be in a different financial situation
  • If you need to go out, respect others in public
  • Don’t judge other people because you do not know their story

Looking after your employees now, will ensure their long-term mental health, which will have long-term benefits to businesses in terms of productivity, loss of absence due to mental health issues, increased staff retention due to loyalty and status as an employer of choice.

You find further support on the WHO website and on the government’s COVID-19 guidance for employers website.

We have more ideas in our article Work Life Integration – The New Normal

Parental Choice works with businesses to support their employees who have childcare or eldercare responsibilities. 

We do this through helping them secure long-term dependable childcare or finding care homes for the elderly, all supported with a programme of wellbeing talks and presentations to provide emotional strategies designed to help with the challenges of juggling a family and a career.

More information on our services can be found here.

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