Communicate to support mental health
What you need to do
Employers should ensure they are maintaining good communication with their staff to support them and reduce any sense of isolation.
Why this is important for you
For many of us, the coronavirus outbreak has caused huge changes in our daily routine and the opportunity to interact with others in person has been significantly limited. This can lead to staff feeling isolated, unclear of their role and anxious. As an employer you have a duty of care to your staff’s mental health and wellbeing whilst they are working from home, just as you would when they are at work.
How you can support your employees:
The level and type of support your employees need will vary from one person to another. It is therefore crucial you keep lines of communication open and be flexible in your approach. You may wish to use alternative methods of communication other than email such as WhatsApp, Microsoft Office Teams, and Skype etc.
Things to consider:
- Communicating key information as regularly as possible. The unknown is always difficult in situation like this, so having consistent clear communication is really important.
- Regular one to one chats with staff, ensuring you ask them about their wellbeing and their changing home life.
- Ensure that your employees have provided you, and team members, with up-to-date contact and emergency details
- Increasing the frequency of team meetings to maintain business function and team relationships and to keep up with the daily updates as the situation changes.
- Encouraging employee-led webinars, lunch and learn sessions or virtual social gatherings. This will assist with creativity and bring some stability to the team. Themes can be fun and sessions can keep people smiling!
- Sharing positive thoughts and news. An end of the day gratitude check-in can go a long way in keeping spirits positive.
- Getting your teams to make a list of good podcasts, which can be shared. These can be great company when working at home alone.
- Creating a team music playlist. Music can be a great way to feel connected.
- Checking you have the up-to-date contact and emergency details
- Where staff are unable to work this may result in pressures transferring to other team members. Consider setting weekly targets and adjusting them accordingly while complying with the Working Time Regulations ACT 1998
- Establishing a buddy system will help employees who might need additional emotional support at this time feel supported.
Furthermore, you can encourage employees to support and communicate with family, friends, relatives, neighbours and members of their communities via phone calls or video calls (WhatsApp, Facetime, Skype etc.) as this will reduce feelings of isolation, confusion and anxiety. Encouraging employees to join neighbourhood groups through a website or a social media page will help maintain access to information, contacts and resources within their community.
These resources can help you with tips on how to communicate while working from home:
- Mental Health Foundation has information on how you can support yourself and colleagues
- The BBC has released some helpful tips on working from home.
- This CIPD factsheet has further guidelines on supporting your employees’ health, wellbeing and safety
- Mind have produced some information on providing managers with guidance on how to support employees.