5 tips to support mental health as people return to the workplace
The line between work and home life was beginning to blur even before the pandemic, but since then, many things have changed - some temporarily and some of which may be permanent. Many of these changes can potentially impact our mental health – like working from home.
One thing that’s become even more evident over the last two years is that mental health is as important as physical health and that we should all pay attention to it. Another thing that’s become apparent is that isolation can affect our mental health, and we may need to be careful as we re-adapt to being more social again.
Employee mental health should concern business owners
A study conducted by MetLife indicated that 57% of employees who work for small businesses were concerned for their mental health, and 24% said they believe their mental health has worsened in the past year. What can employers do? Here are some tips to help keep the mental health of your employees a top priority.
1. Reducing stress and anxiety
The number one thing to help welcome your employees back is to go through the safety checklist. Be sure you have the work environment set up in a way that will comfort your staff while they’re at work. Make efforts to have hand sanitizer widely available and have safety glass or customer-facing boundaries in place. Follow the guidelines set by the CDC - this will ease employees back into the swing of things while creating a stress-free place to work.
Aside from the basics above, if feasible (and something that your staff would use) look into programs and apps to offer your employees. Many companies have invested in wellness programs to improve their staff’s overall quality of life. Some examples are:
- Headspace – excellent for meditation
- Happify – helps boost your mood
- Moodkit – aids in overall mental wellness
- Talkspace – best for mental therapy
- iBreathe – Ideal for those dealing with stress
In addition, check with your health insurance provider (if you provide health insurance to your employees) to see what programs they might offer that you can extend to your staff.
2. Introverts and extroverts may have changed places
As you welcome back your employees to an in-person environment, be kind. The events over the past couple of years have taken a toll on most of us. Those outgoing, ambitious employees may have changed; the separation from being part of an in-person team may have made them more introverted. And conversely, those soft-spoken staff members may now crave human interaction and have become far more extroverted. Be patient as your employees adjust to being back together.
3. When personal and professional worlds collide
Much of our everyday lives have been thrown out of normal rhythm over the course of the pandemic. Many couples successfully took on the challenge of working remotely – side-by-side, as their homes were transformed into virtual workspaces. But in many cases, this type of arrangement may have added more than a bit of stress and anxiety to relationships. Being together all the time simply doesn’t work for some. Add in the complexity of children and hybrid school schedules, and it’s a recipe for chaos!
As you welcome your employees back to work, bear in mind these sorts of challenges that they have more-than-likely experienced lately. While we all try to keep our personal lives separate from our work lives, when working from home is the norm, this becomes difficult. The two worlds collide, and it’s hard not to carry work over into the home life and vice versa.
As we all begin to ease back into a state of normalcy, try to be understanding that some of your workers may be dealing with personal hardships. This is another area of life where some of those wellness programs and apps can offer a great deal of assistance.
4. Employee appreciation and training
Working remotely has become the norm for so many over the past two years, and new hires may have been through a lot, mentally, trying to find employment. Understanding these challenges is critical in bringing people back to work.
Make a plan to welcome new hires and remote staff into your workplace. There may be an opportunity to bring in guest speakers to talk about mental health overall or topics relating to specific areas of mental health, such as depression, anxiety, and stress. Coming back to work is a big step.
Providing your employees with workshops and lectures to assist them with issues they may be facing shows them that you are genuinely invested in them and their well-being. Offering ways to reduce stress and creating a calm work environment is critical to employee development.
5. Provide some downtime
Regardless of the type of work you’re doing, we all need a break now and then. Make sure you’re providing adequate downtime for your staff (and yourself). In addition, if your employees are behind masks all day, fresh air is necessary. Keep up to date with state and local authorities to ensure you’re complying with labor laws and providing your employees with all they need to do their jobs adequately.
At the end of the day, remember, we all work our best when we feel good. This goes for mental health, too. When our minds are in top shape, we tend to perform better. You’ve taken your time in finding the best staff for your business; take the time to invest in their holistic well-being – it benefits everyone.
Related: 4 Ways to hire top talent – even now