With lockdown set to continue and many of us juggling responsibilities like home schooling with work, looking after your employees’ mental health is more important than ever.

All employers have a duty of care to support the health, safety and wellbeing of employees. How can you look after your staff wellbeing when you’re working remotely and what sort of support could you be offering?

    1. Check their set up for home working. Is their working environment having a negative impact on their mental health? Have you conducted a homeworking risk assessment? This will allow you to identify where changes or improvements could be made. Download our free template or look at our working from home tick list.
    2. Check in regularly and ask them how they are coping. In some cases, some employees may not have been asked this question and it will make a real difference. A simple ‘how are you doing today?’ or ‘what can I do to support you with work? Can make a massive difference to someone who is struggling. Make yourself available and carve out time regularly as a line manager to be able to talk to staff and assess how they are coping. It could be a good idea to send out wellbeing resources to staff to remind them to take care of their mental health.
    3. Consider some form of mental health training for line managers or ACAS suggests appointing mental health ‘champions’ who staff can talk to. We work closely with partner Simpila which offers remote courses in mental health first aid training for businesses. Find out more here.
    4. Keep the lines of communication constantly open – if you feel that staff are anxious about admitting how they are really feeling then a staff survey can be a good mechanism.
    5. Be realistic and set realistic expectations for staff. Understand that ‘normal working hours’ may be impacted and don’t make them pretend that they may have other responsibilities (such as home schooling or caring for others). Adding pressure into an already difficult situation is going to have a negative impact on all concerned. You can set these up using a simple tool like SurveyMonkey or use an advanced tool which will help you assess and action the results like WeThrive.

    6. Support those on furlough, who may be feeling isolated and anxious about their future roles in the business. Read our guide to supporting furloughed staff.

What to do if you’re concerned about a member of staff

If you’re concerned about a member of staff, or they raise an issue there are some useful resources to help you including this Wellness Action Plan from Mind.

The most important thing to do however is to listen.

  • Be open and non-judgmental about what they are telling you.
  • Ask simple questions to avoid overwhelm and don’t make assumptions about what’s happening to them.
  • Be positive and reassure them that you are here to support them in Seeking help.
  • Take your cues from the language they use and communicate back to them in this way.

Its appreciated that as a manager or business owner you might also be struggling and its not expected that you provide all the answer and support. There are lots of support organisations who can assist if a member of staff has a serious issue (you will find the links at the bottom of the page).

The next stage is to consider how you can help them as a line manager at work, these include:

  • Offering them time off – when they feel well enough to return conduct a return-to-work meeting to find out how they are feeling and how you can further support.
  • Reasonable adjustment to their role or working pattern or create an action plan which identifies any potential stress triggers.
  • Be flexible – there is no ‘one size fits all’ during this difficult time.
  • Supporting them with getting help – including accessing a counsellor (see links below). ACAS has useful guidance for all employers.

Useful resources

You may also be interested in ‘Looking after your team’s mental health.’