With the business world gearing up to potentially welcome teams back to the office in a few weeks, you might be forgiven for putting mental health on the back burner while you deal with the logistics and practical matters that surround transitioning back to the workplace after months of remote working.
While we’re all glad of a return to normal, keep in mind that this change can also be a trigger for stress and anxiety. According to Personnel Today, the unusual circumstances we find ourselves in can be triggering for almost anyone. Speaking to Dr Johnson from Sarum Occupational Health, the HR experts say, “People can often be anxious about returning to work at the best of times, whether after a time away for illness or even just coming back after a fortnight’s holiday away, he pointed out. So, given the length of time many people have been away from the physical office environment, this could well be amplified.”
The companies who make a habit of placing great importance on the mental health of their employees tend to be those who offer a wide range of benefits and perks designed to support each person both inside and outside of the workplace (such as offering access to private counselling and subsidised gym memberships to help fend off stress). It’s no coincidence that these firms tend to register less employee churn, record greater staff satisfaction levels and benefit from increased productivity.
If your business doesn’t yet have a firm mental health policy in place, the prospect of entering a post-pandemic world affords you the perfect opportunity to redress this oversight. An easy way to begin is simply by talking and listening; Not only does investing in mental health and general wellbeing benefits lessen the amount of stress-related sick days taken by staff. Many businesses which have offered holistic wellness benefits such as access to online yoga classes have reported a significant reduction in remote working fatigue and higher productivity levels during the pandemic.
However, many employees are highly attuned to insincere attempts to look after their mental health with the end product being an increase in company profits. It’s worth consulting with staff on what they actually need and want to be happy, healthy and productive at work before putting in place new policies or procedures.
You’ll also need to accept that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to support the mental wellbeing of your team. What works for one won’t work for another, so a varied and well thought out plan that has employee input and considers the needs of all is key.