COVID-19: What can employers do to protect their employee’s mental health?
By now, your business has grown accustomed to the dramatic impact COVID-19 has had on markets around the world, and perhaps your own revenue and activities have also been affected. With all the current troubles and concerns, there is one thing you must not forget as an employer, and that’s your sole duty to protect your employees both physically but more importantly, mentally. Whatever business you run around the world, be advised about one thing – a protected employee is a protected business.
In this article by Pacific Prime, we provide some helpful tips on how to protect your employee’s mental health and discuss how employee benefits can help your employees during this time of hardship and uncertainty.
Tips on protecting your employee’s mental health
As an employer, you have the right and authority to execute plans and deliver solutions to protect your most important assets – employees. Managers and HR professionals all have a role in providing support for employees as well. With many countries in lockdown or restrictions in place, many businesses have either resorted to asking employees to work from home or have some essential members in the workplace to continue operations. However, employers can do more to help employees stay mentally healthy, whatever their situation.
Here are some tips for employers in supporting employees in staying mentally healthy and connected to the workplace and each other:
Always remain approachable and available
As an employer, you needn’t be told that your employees are likely to be stressed and overwhelmed about circumstances related to the coronavirus. Everywhere, there is constant news of the escalating pandemic.
At this point, you must have the ability to approach employees directly and discuss with them their worries. By giving employees the chance to open up, you can answer their questions and reassure them about what the company is doing to help. Just like when listening to business ideas and opportunities, this is the same thing. Communication is of paramount importance here.
Also, providing your employees with clear channels of communication and making yourself and the team of managers and human resource professionals available will provide employees with a sense of connection, response, and comfort. Becoming one and united will allow the business, employers, and employees to walk the path together, steadily and well.
Recognize what isolation and loneliness can do to your employees
Now is the time to enhance your connections with your employees. Working remotely can cause people to feel isolated, which makes it more important for managers and team leaders to routinely check on their team members.
Additionally, it shouldn’t be just about work. It could be a catch up on what’s happened at home, for instance, what they had for lunch or the type of exercise they have done. We all know from experience or from hearing others, that loneliness can lead to serious levels of depression and other mental health issues.
By catching up with your employees on a regular basis you will be able to judge better, if not sense a change in pattern in your employee’s personality or behavior. This could be a sign that the employee is struggling. Keep in touch with all employees, like you would with your family.
Encourage learning and productivity
Everyone does better when they excel through disciplined and regular training. Gold medals are not won without a strong mentality and diligent training regimes. This approach should be passed onto employees as many may be at home and looking for new routines to fulfill their spare time.
Now is a great time to encourage employees to dive into their work passion (not necessarily for the sake of work), but to allow employees to learn beyond their comfort zone. Learning increases the activity of the mind and will help distract from the negative news surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.
As an employer, you should consider subscribing to courses that your employees will be most interested in. Give them the flexibility and choice, which is why with close communication, you’ll know exactly what to give them.
Remind employees to check out their business’ employee benefits plan
Of all the tips mentioned, this can be the make or break of a business. Assuming that you understand fully the importance of an excellent employee benefits plan, and you already have a plan in place, you’ll see this tip benefit you and your employees the most.
With that said, employers that have a well thought out wellness program built into their employee benefits plan will find that now is the best time to let employees utilize the benefits available.
A wellness program is one that’s intended to promote or improve the health or fitness of employees at work. A wellness program may include flexible work options such as:
Flexible working times
Employees that still need to head into work and wish to avoid the rush hour should have the option to choose to start later and finish after the rush hour can be beneficial. Employees can feel less stressed about coming across an infected person, and still perform his/her duties at work.
Healthy eating programs
These programs are quite popular with employees that have a goal of staying healthy. Many will choose to eat healthily to boost the body’s immune system and give the whole body strength. More so, eating well can substantially improve one’s mental health. When eating food that is good and nutritious, but also delicious, the thoughts of an employee can only grow happily and positively.
On-site health services
For employers that have onsite medical staff, employees can seek the help they need directly. For those working from home, the advancement in telehealth allows individuals to connect directly to a medical professional without having to pass out the front door.
Access employee assistance program (EAP)
Another type of benefit is a free employee financial or legal support to help those struggling with their finances. Other types of EAPs also focus on mental health, and with all that’s going on in the world, employees are likely to spiral into the trap of developing mental health problems. For this reason, EAPs are essential for businesses to ensure their employees remain mentally fit and healthy.
It is proven that employers with mental health benefits as part of their overall employee benefits plan are at a significant advantage over those who do not offer such benefits. They are likely to have a lower incidence of work burnout on-site ramifications, and work-related accidents and injury.
Discover more about wellness programs and group insurance solutions
Whether your business has an employee benefits plan in place or not, much may have changed since the appearance of COVID-19. Therefore, it is worth getting in contact with a broker like Pacific Prime to get the latest update in news, trend, and development of EB plans.
Pacific Prime is a specialist employee benefits solutions provider for businesses of all types ranging, from start-ups and SMEs to multinational organizations. Our team of experts can also help provide impartial advice across a range of health plans including:
For businesses that require more information on employee benefits plans and wellness options, head to our corporate page.
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