Employers urged to do more for staff mental wellbeing

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Date: 31 March 2020

HR women using video conferencing tools on her grey laptop to check staff mental well being

The CIPD and Simplyhealth have said that employers need to check in with employees - including those working remotely - to support their mental wellbeing during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Health and Well-being Survey at Work 2020 report, published by the CIPD and Simplyhealth, has found that only 31% of employees say their managers have the confidence to have sensitive discussions around mental health and signpost staff to sources of help.

The Covid-19 pandemic has increased the likelihood of workers suffering from stress - with fear of infection and feeling isolated, along with concerns about job or income loss.

The CIPD says that managers need to be "confident and capable to support people's mental well-being and prevent stress during this difficult time".

However, the report, which polled over 1,000 people professionals representing 4.5 million employees, has found that the majority of managers were falling short on this front - even before the crisis started.

The findings show that only 25% of respondents say that their managers can spot the early warning signs of mental ill health. The CIPD says: "While managers are not - and should not be expected to be - medical experts, they need to be comfortable having discussions about mental health and recognise they will often be the first port of call when a colleague wants to raise an issue."

The CIPD and Simplyhealth are recommending employers do the following during and after the crisis:

  • Support and guide their managers so that they feel equipped to have sensitive and supportive discussions with staff;
  • Remind managers about the importance of communicating regularly with their team and asking how they are;
  • Encourage staff to practise self-care such as a healthy routine for diet, sleep and relaxation;
  • Promote their existing health and wellbeing benefits and support.

Rachel Suff, CIPD wellbeing adviser, said: "The Covid-19 pandemic is putting a huge strain on employers and individuals - and it's completely understandable that for some, this situation is proving challenging for their mental health.

"With many workers now working from home, it can be even harder for managers to pick up on cues that their colleagues might be struggling. It's really important that managers are regularly checking in with their team and making use of video calls, so interactions can be as personal as possible.

"Employers also need to remember that their duty of care for people's health and safety carries on no matter where staff are based. These findings show that while more managers are being trained to help colleagues with their mental health, it doesn't always seem to be translating into better support for staff. This pandemic presents a real threat to people's mental, as well as physical, health and employers need to think about both when putting in place plans to protect their workforce."

Written by Rachel Miller.