As restrictions start to be lifted and plans are made for businesses to reopen and welcome their customers and teams back into the workplace after over a year of homeworking, now is the time to prepare. While you’re going through the practical checks of ensuring that systems are working, that you can operate in a Covid-safe way, and that customers know where and how to find you, perhaps one of the most important safety checks might be overlooked – your team’s mental health.
Don’t delay – prepare today!
It’s often been said that we have all weathered the storm, but in very different boats. We must also remember that we are all very different sailors! Some will be itching to return to normality, frustrated by their confinement and undaunted by the prospect of slotting back into their old lives. They may also be desperate for contact with other humans after intense feelings of isolation or exhausted by the pressures of home schooling. But others will have relished the change of pace, the opportunity to focus on home and family, and the short commute from bedroom to dining table. In reality, most of us will have very mixed feelings and for very different reasons.
Just as it’s important for you to understand the functionality and quirks of your systems, machinery and tools, so it’s important to understand your team. You may make assumptions about each person’s individual challenges and motivations. But none of us really knows the inner workings of anyone’s home or head unless they are really able to explain it without fear of judgement or consequences. Perhaps we are not all clear ourselves about how we feel. There are so many factors to consider, such as vaccinations, finances, family concerns, relationship strain, workload, long Covid.
Protect the NHS
‘Stay at home, save lives, protect the NHS’ was the mantra repeated on a daily basis. The imminent threat to our precious health system is no longer at the forefront of government agendas. However, we now have a new risk to face. Mental health issues in the general population have increased dramatically over the past year. Local counselling charity Evolve has reported more than double the demand from private individuals since the start of the pandemic. Those with existing conditions have been unable to access their usual NHS services unless critical, and we now face a backlog of cases. Experts predict that a fourth wave of the pandemic could put unprecedented strain on the NHS for mental health services. Years of underinvestment means that there is currently neither the budget nor the resources for the impending demand.
The impact on business
Staff wellbeing has never been more important to your business. And it’s not just about attracting and recruiting new talent and retaining existing staff. Absence from work costs British business an estimated £77 billion per year1. Approximately half of this is attributed to mental health problems2. If your people cannot access prompt support via statutory services, your business will suffer.
Private investment in care may prove to be the wise option, yielding a return on investment of up to 5:13. Early intervention is key. It’s imperative that your line managers are not only aware of any potential issues and how mental health issues might manifest themselves, but also have the skills to talk to and support their teams appropriately. It’s not just about appointing and training a couple of Mental Health First Aiders and thinking that box is ticked. Line managers should have regular and honest conversations with staff as part of their performance reviews and general day-to-day management.
Evolve can help
Evolve Counselling has been operating as Cambridgeshire Consultancy in Counselling since 1978. They provide low-cost counselling to the most vulnerable in the local community, as well as affordable and flexible support for Cambridgeshire’s business community, working with large organisations to small businesses. They have now rebranded as Evolve Counselling – same charity, same excellent service, new name!
Evolve offers one-to-one counselling for staff, arranged on a ‘pay as you go’ basis by the employer. They also offer quality training to support your wellbeing strategy, including Mental Health Awareness workshops for line managers and Coping with Anxiety webinars for all staff. Why not start with a wellbeing review for your team? Discover the issues of concern within the team and identify any individuals who might need additional support.
Find out about all of Evolve’s wellbeing offerings by contacting Heather Knapp on firstname.lastname@example.org.