Supporting mental health in lockdown

Lockdown has changed how we work and, for many of us, this happened overnight. Technological solutions such as video conferencing, task management software and cloud drives have quickly become essential tools of business. These solutions have allowed many businesses to continue with the minimum of disruption. However, while the physical tools needed to work from home are readily available, there are emotional challenges in home-working that many of us are facing for the first time. It is vital that HR teams are equipped to help staff deal with these new challenges.

According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Covid-19 lockdown measures are set to overwhelm mental health services with a “tsunami of mental illness”. Many employees will be suffering in ways they have never experienced before, or ever expected to experience, and will be unsure of how and where to ask for help. As an HR professional you will probably be having lots of conversations with employees about their mental health. Whilst experiencing the same social isolation and stresses as your staff, you also must fulfil the important role of protecting and supporting your staff during these very difficult times.

Existing employee benefits such as private health insurance, health cash plans and employee assistance programs can help you in this, but they need to be communicated effectively to your employees so that they are aware of what is in place. You may also be considering changes to your benefits package, as this crisis has prompted so many employers to do now, particularly in your health and wellbeing strategy. Again, making sure that your employees fully understand and appreciate these benefits will maximise their effectiveness. Employee benefit platforms can play an important part in this as they give staff working from home access to information on their benefits at any time and from any device.

Office-based businesses have to plan for a phased return to work as we gradually come out of lockdown so home working is likely to persist for some time to come. In fact, working from home, for at least part of the working week, will now be the norm for many employees so now is the time to use effective technology to make all staff feel supported and informed.