The landscape in Australia has dramatically changed over the last few months. The surge of COVID-19 has significantly changed our daily practices at work, at home and within our local community. With employers across the nation rapidly learning the best ways to manoeuvre forward, not only for their businesses but to support their valuable employees in the most seamless way.
With the profound impact of the pandemic, employers have justifiably had to prioritise in key areas most needed. An area identified as needing further support and attention is the mental health and wellbeing of all employees. With many business owners introducing new programs and services to support their workforce, there are still many others that are only starting to look into this.
About 1 in 5 Australians already live with a mental health condition, with the most common conditions – depression, anxiety and substance abuse (Healthdirect). These conditions can arise as a result of fear, stress, uncertainty, lack of control, and confusion which the current COVID-19 situation is contributing to. It is highly likely that this statistic may increase as a direct result of the current crisis as well as impact those who have not previously experienced a mental health condition. Not only has this pandemic created substantial stressors on people’s daily lives but the social isolation and economic pressures from working remotely may also contribute to many employees experiencing mental health issues.
In this constantly evolving environment, employers are under immense strain to make the right decisions to sustain their workforce and longevity of their business. It’s imperative for employers, after months of reactively managing through this crisis, to provide a good foundation of support services including a high level of communication and transparency to their workforce. This will help lower anxiety levels and build confidence during uncertain times ahead.
Here’s a checklist for ways to support your employee’s mental health needs:
• Build empathy and care. Demonstrate understanding of the employee experience during this uncertain time. Encourage employees to take the time to care for themselves, providing self-care tips to manage this.
• Encourage the sense of community. To promote employees to feel a sense of belonging, offer support through a variety of options including virtual meetings / social events and encourage a work-life balance.
• Offer adequate resources. Provide employees with access to mental health and wellbeing resources, and services if required.
• Increase training. Provide senior leadership team with information and skills to promote mental health and wellbeing needs within the workplace.
• Access to reliable information. Provide employees with credible information particularly when being overwhelmed with inconsistent news in media.
There is a range of services and resources available to employers during this time, and atWork Australia’s employment services team can provide specialised support and assistance. In addition, employers can support their workforce by sharing relevant resources including mental health self-care tips which can be found here.