Sodexo Engage highlights how to handle uncertainty in the COVID-19 era
By Isla Sutherland
As Scotland faces new COVID-19 restrictions, employee benefits provider Sodexo Engage has pulled together a checklist to help Scottish businesses handle uncertainty about the future.
Recent statistics from GOV.UK reveal mental health across the UK has deteriorated as a result of lockdowns and the coronavirus crisis. We saw a return to partial normality over the summer, reviving spirits along with the economy. As this starts to be reversed with a fresh wave of restrictions, the uncertainty this provokes could adversely impact mental health.
For Scotland’s workforce, this could spell the return of fears about job security and isolation. With home working still mandatory for those who are able to and some firms facing curfews and temporary closures, employers will need to do all they can to maintain optimism within their teams.
Managers are responsible for keeping tabs on the wellbeing of staff and ensuring they have regular opportunities to discuss professional or personal concerns. It’s now more important than ever to be available to staff and have regular check-ins by phone or over a video call. Managers should also be open about how the business is doing, as this will help mitigate some of the anxiety felt by staff members.
One of the key fears with further restrictions on the horizon is job security, which often goes hand in hand with money concerns. It’s crucial to be frank with staff and create a working environment that’s a safe space to open up about financial anxiety. Managers can offer advice and share their own tips and tricks and it’s even possible to offer financial advice and savings tips as part of an employee benefits package.
Check your benefits
Having a wider variety of benefit options and benefits specifically tailored to the current climate, could help ease the stress of employees. In a time of collective anxiety, many individuals will be concerned about job security and worrying about finances. This can have a huge impact on mental health. Wellbeing initiatives, such as Employee Assistance Programmes, which can include online resources and counselling opportunities, can go a long way to alleviating some of the pressures and concerns within the team.
Think about new ways to socialise
Events like the Christmas party that allow staff to let their hair down and socialise outside of work are key bonding activities, so it’s important that businesses still find alternative ways to have fun. This could mean having a virtual Christmas quiz or having informal virtual drinks.
Learn to recognise when staff are struggling and equip the team with the skills to identify the signs of mental strain in themselves and their colleagues. Employers can consider bringing in external consultants to educate on the symptoms of poor mental health.
Recognising mental health strain and burnout can also be part of training programmes and career development. Some companies may find a dedicated Mental Health First Aiders to be useful.
There’s an overwhelming sense of uncertainty at the moment. As Scottish businesses confront the prospect of more restrictions, it’s easy to feel glum and recede into negativity. Both managers and team members will need to look out for each other and recognise the signs of stress and poor mental health. They can equip themselves with the skills to spot these signs and act when needed.
What’s more, revamping a stale employee benefits offering is a reliable way of boosting the team’s mood. Options such as Employee Assistance Programmes, which can help provide mental health support to staff, are particularly pertinent right now. Dealing with uncertainty defies clear-cut solutions but having a chance to vent and sound off will be vital.
Author: Isla Sutherland