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Time for businesses to look differently at mental health

May 4th 2021

Thinking it over with Carol Fish Director & Head of Serious and Catastrophic Injury…

AS more people prepare to return to offices and other workplaces as lockdown eases further over the coming weeks, now is the time for businesses and employers to be planning how to look after the welfare of their people.

Some employees will be looking forward to getting back into workplaces and excited about interacting with their colleagues and customers face to face again. Others might be anxious about returning for a whole host of reasons, whether that’s a fear of the health implications of Covid-19 or general mental health issues associated with being back in a busy environment.

Whoever you talk to everyone has had a different experience of lockdown over the last year. It’s going to be the same when people return to workplaces – everyone is going to feel differently. Those who are in industries which have long since returned to workplaces may also have different concerns about life returning more to ‘normal’.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists is among those predicting a big increase in mental health issues. Mental health is not just about traumatic events which have caused anxiety and depression. It is about how we are feeling every day.

This is a really important time for businesses and employers to think about how they are going to best support their workforces.

There’s a real opportunity to reset and to put mental health, well-being, welfare and safety of staff at the top of the agenda. It’s a chance for a new kind of leadership.

It is worth businesses considering carrying out a survey of staff to find out exactly how they are feeling and what their expectations are around being back in the workplace, whether that’s full-time at work or at home, or a hybrid of both.

Those businesses which are alive to the possibility of change, who innovate, and who ensure they are putting the well-being of their staff first, are likely to be well-positioned to be successful.

It is highly likely that when looking for jobs employees will choose companies who don’t just have a tick-box approach to welfare of staff, but who live and breathe these values. Those businesses are likely to attract and retain the best talent. Now is the time to have staff mental health and well-being at the forefront of their return to work plans.

Of course what is also crucial is that businesses and organisations have the correct, robust policies in place to ensure that people are treated consistently, fairly, transparently and within the correct legal framework.

Again talking to a whole range of people during lockdown everyone has had their own individual issues and their own ways of coping. Some have suffered grief,suffered psychologically, struggled with depression, turned to alcohol, lost their enthusiasm, or been unable to attend their usual activities which might have resulted in them simply putting on weight. All these sometimes seemingly small elements can make a big difference to how people feel about themselves or how they behave.

It is really important that businesses and organisations check they have the relevant employment policies in place, such as health and safety and drug and alcohol policies and that if there are changes they are making to people’s roles being in or out of the office, or a hybrid, that they are clearly documented, understood, and agreed.

At Cartmell Shepherd Solicitors our employment law team can help ensure all those policies are in place and can guide businesses and organisations through everything they need in this fast-changing world. As always, we are here to help.

To contact Carol Fish please call 01228 516666.

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