RedArc believes small businesses are ‘well positioned’ to spot struggling staff members at this time
The more intimate nature of SMEs (small-to-medium sized enterprises) mean that management and colleagues may be better able to spot a member of staff who is suffering from poor mental health issues than a larger business, according to RedArc Nurses.
This means that employers of smaller firms should be on ‘high alert' for post-Covid-19 mental health issues among staff, the nurse service has claimed.
According to OpenMoney research published by WorkLife (based on 750 senior and HR decision makers), three out of 10 (29%) small businesses worry about the impact the pandemic is having on the mental wellbeing of their employees, while SME employers are most concerned (36%) about keeping staff safe from the risk of Covid-19 in the workplace.
Christine Husbands, managing director for RedArc Nurses said: "The onset of the pandemic and all it has entailed thus far, has, not surprisingly taken its toll on the mental wellbeing of many people. Anxieties have been wide-ranging, including worries about their own health, the health of their families, the impact of the restrictions, financial worries, depression brought about by isolation, grief for loss of freedom, the sheer impact on the world and of course those who have been bereaved. Employers need to be aware, more than ever, of a potential decline in the mental health of their staff."
Whilst not intended as a substitute for professional mental health support, RedArc has offered seven techniques helping staff who may be struggling in the workplace.
- Empathetic active listening: take the time to speak to employees, ask open questions and most importantly listen non-judgementally and without interruption.
- Ask what would help them: it may not always be possible to deliver on all needs but it will help to understand their situation.
- Pick-up on verbal and non-verbal messages and signs that something may not be right.
- Be self-aware and appreciate the impact of employer communication on the employee: do they seem comfortable with the conversation, would they prefer a different method. For example, would they prefer a phone call or an email?
- Summarise what has been said: be supportive and non-judgemental.
- Signpost to relevant sources of help, including charities such as Mind or The Samaritans, or employee benefits that are available.
- Follow-up regularly and constantly reassess.
Christine Husbands said: "Employees are really torn: on the one hand they want to return to their places of work for reasons of job security, finances, social factors and loyalty, but on the other they may have health concerns for themselves or those with whom they live, as well as being anxious about using public transport and practical issues such as childcare.
"Employers have a great responsibility to ease staff back to work in a way which doesn't exacerbate the condition of anyone struggling with mental health problems. That may mean that a one-size-fits-all approach simply won't work, but smaller employees will know their staff well and have a good gauge about how Covid-19 has affected individual people."
RedArc is also urging smaller businesses to make mental health communications a vital part of their return-to-work guidance for staff.
As employees step back into the workplace, it's important to remind staff about any mental health provision available to them, said the nurse service provider. This can help stop signs of poor mental health early and help avoid them escalating.
Many insurers make mental health support services available as a free value-add alongside group and individual insurances such as critical illness, income protection and life insurance policies, added RedArc.
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