How to protect your employee’s mental health in the aftermath of COVID-19

The lockdowns have created significant stress and mental fatigue, and every individual will be dealing with it to a varying degree of success. As restrictions ease, the journey people take will vary, depending on themselves and what they feel safe doing. Organisations need to do more to protect employee’s mental health, in this article we share some guidance on how this can be achieved. 

A SHARED EXPEREINCE OF BEING UNDER STRESS

Tom Oxley made the point that returning staff will need to be listened to, believed, given space, and “heard out emotionally.” Our phased return to work will be a rare moment to open the issue of mental health, as we can collectively benefit from talking to each other, about a shared experience of being under stress.

HELPING WITH EMPLOYEE ANXIETY 

Crucially, it is possible to start engaging with the topic right now, when your people most need it using digital channels. You could start by asking staff what aspects of the return to the office they might be anxious about, such as access to resources, office protocols or their commute. You can gain valuable insights and use them to fine-tune your approach. You could start raising awareness of the symptoms people show when suffering from mental fatigue, thus helping individuals directly whilst also educating staff on how to spot if a colleague might be struggling. You can also share guidelines on how an individual could approach the subject with a friend or colleague, such as how to ask non-judgemental, open questions. Working together, colleagues can help look out for employee’s mental health and be there to help if needed. 

A DIGITAL APPROACH TO MENTAL HEALTH TRAINING

Digital learning channels are perfect for creating scenarios that allow people to practise their responses. By creating fictional persona types, people can get immediate feedback on the likely outcomes of different approaches. And ‘digital learning’ does not have to be isolated to a purely digital form of delivery, rather the assets can be designed to support face to face conversations, as soon as they are possible.

By letting people orientate themselves around the subject in a controlled environment, inform and teach them best practise, we can help to normalise this issue and help each other thrive.

Fenturi create digital learning experiences, to deliver critical information to distributed workforces. Fenturi designs content, so will create a unique solution, that will be authentic to your brand’s values and personality.

Tom Oxley is the founder and director of Bamboo Mental Health, a consultancy that runs mental health audits for employers. He has spoken at TEDx on the subject, see his presentation here.

 

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