Home Insight Mental Health in Tech – A Guide to Supporting Staff

As the Covid-19 pandemic swept across Europe, many businesses were forced to adapt to a new way of working very quickly. This complete change to the way people work has been disruptive, and has left a lot of employers and managers without any guides to follow. It's completely understandable to be unsure about how to look after your staff during this unprecedented time .

[Is your IT infrastructure ready for mass employee remote working?]

Tips on supporting employee mental health during lockdown

We’ve put together some of the things we’ve implemented at 4D over the past few weeks:

5 Mental health tips for supporting your remote working staff

1. Communication from the top

Depending on the size of your company, the owner or MD of the business should aim to have at least one ‘All Staff’ video conference meeting every couple of weeks. If there is a significant change within the company or the government makes a policy announcement that may affect your staff don’t be afraid to call a video meeting at short notice to reassure everyone.

[We have compiled a list of video conferencing services that are free or have special offers]

2. One-to-ones

Again, depending on the size of the business, either the MD or line managers should aim to speak to every member of staff on a one-to-one basis as soon as possible. Rather than focusing on work, these calls should focus on the well-being of the individual and their family. Understanding the individual circumstances of all members of staff will help head-off any problems before they occur and give everyone an opportunity to talk about anything that might be causing them stress or anxiety.

3. Be open and honest

Many people will be worried about their jobs – don’t sugar coat issues and wherever possible stick to the facts as opposed to speculation. If you are finding it tough too, it’s okay to tell staff this – if times are tough for the company, chances are they will know it already and they will respect you more for being honest. Make sure they know they can always come to you if they have any concerns.

4. Be flexible

For leaders who are not used to managing their workforce remotely, letting go of a certain amount of control is going to be difficult. You must actively encourage your team to maintain a healthy balance between work and home life. Send them some homeworking tips (you can send them ours if you want) and let them know you understand family matters may take precedence. As long as they communicate when they’re having to take care of personal matters, cut them slack – especially in the early stages of this pandemic as everyone is still finding their feet.

5. Signpost help

As well as providing an open door to any staff member, make sure they know the other internal routes to get help. Direct contact details of line managers, internal HR managers or external HR consultants should be made available to everyone as well as links to useful resources such as the below.

Useful web resources:

Confidential helplines:

  • Samaritans: 116 123
  • Mind Infoline: 0300 123 3393 (or text 86463)
  • Prevention of Young Suicide (Papyrus): 0800 068 41 41
  • Cruse Bereavement Care Helpline: 0808 808 1677

In the UK, local mental health resources can be found via the www.hubofhope.co.uk website.

6. Setting goals and training

It may be difficult to track individual progress when everyone is working from home, so in consultation with managers, set some achievable short to medium term goals at a team level. It will add a sense of common purpose and as long as they’re not too ambitious, will allow team members to show they’re making progress.

For teams whose workload may have temporarily diminished because of the pandemic, get team leaders to set up training schedules so that time spent at home can be used productively to improve individuals’ skills.

For managers and HR specialists, consider putting them on courses such as this one (currently free) to help them identify and support members of staff who might be struggling from a mental health perspective.

7. Champion fun, non-work activities

With so much to be serious about, it’s important to make an effort to get your team engaged in some fun activities. Team activities such as weekly virtual pub quizzes or daily virtual water-cooler chats (we call ours ‘Cuppa Club’) can break up the monotony of a workday and spark conversations that can alleviate stress or anxiety.  Team challenges such as bake-off or silly hat Fridays (both can only be judged on presentation) can also be a welcome distraction and an opportunity for a laugh.

 

If you're looking for some extra tips, either for yourself or to share with staff, we also have a list of personal mental health tips for working from home

Additionally, if some of your worries are Covid-19 related, we have a wide range of resources on how to protect your IT system on our regularly updated Covid-19 business resource page.


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