Supporting your employee’s health and safety in the workplace is more than physical safety, mental health and wellbeing is just as important. In the UK, 1 in 7 people are likely to experience mental health problems in the workplace and for those who work alone, this figure is much higher with 64% of lone workers facing psychological distress.Supporting and managing mental health is the workplace is extremely important for both employers and employees. Poor mental health can cause depression and anxiety, affecting self-esteem, confidence and performance.

During Covid-19, it’s especially important to have an open dialogue within your organisation regarding mental health. With many staff experiencing new routines working from home for the first time and feelings of anxiety building due to uncertainty, supporting your colleagues mental and physical health should be a top priority.

This week (18-23 May), we’re supporting Mental Health Awareness Week, a national campaign organised by the Mental Health Foundation to bring light to mental health and the challenges people face.

To support Mental Health Awareness week, we will be raising awareness of the challenge’s mental health presents for lone workers, with practical guidance to support managers and lone workers managing mental health in the workplace.

Tips for Managers

One of the most important tools to support positive mental wellbeing in the workplace is to actively encourage open communication. Having regular dialogue with your team allows lone workers to express their emotions with insight to the challenges they are facing in their role. Open communication allows you to regularly review how their role is going, what is working well and what may need tweaked.

To encourage open communication in your organisation, you can schedule in regular catchups, team meetings and even introduce corporate team-building activities and outings to build trust, engagement and a positive workplace culture. Having a company intranet and internal communications through monthly newsletters is also a great way to communicate positively with employees across your organisation.

Tips for Lone Workers

Working in isolation can make lone workers feel distanced and isolated from the company they work for, even if they have a great time in their role. It’s important for lone workers to regularly catchup with other colleagues and build positive working relationships.

If you are having a hard time at work and dealing with mental health problems, it’s important to communicate your feelings to your line manager or other colleagues. In a study by Mind – the mental health charity, it was found that 47% of workers experienced a mental health issue in their current role and 50% of study participants did not tell anyone. Remember, reporting mental health is the same as reporting a physical injury and should be treated the same way by your employer.

Tips for Managers

Whilst managing the safety of your employees, it’s important to recognise any foreseeable risks that may occur as they perform their role. Foreseeable risk involves danger which a reasonable person should anticipate as the result from their actions. From a manager’s perspective, this involves understanding the physical and phycological risks employees may face from performing their role.

To manage foreseeable risks, it’s important to conduct regular risk assessments. A risk assessment will identify a range of risk scenarios and factors that could impact both physical and mental health. By identifying these risks, measures can be put in place to minimise harm including mental health support and counselling, especially for front line workers who may face violence, abuse and harm.

Tips for Lone Workers

Working alone can be unpredictable and can lead to unexpected harm – both mentally and physically. As a lone worker, it is important for you to work with your manager on identifying foreseeable risks that may impact you whilst you work.

Having a collaborative approach whilst conducting regular risk assessments provides you and your manager a broader oversight of the challenges you may be presented with in your role, allowing you to discuss measures that could be implemented to support you – including mental health support.

Tips for Managers

To manage mental health within the workplace, it is important to encourage a healthy work-life balance. A work-life balance is an important aspect of a healthy work environment – it helps to reduce levels of stress and burnout and further supports your working day to be more productive and positive.

To encourage a healthy work-life balance, your organisation should consider flexible working options including flexitime and working from home. During Covid-19, let your employees know that their wellness is always a priority, especially throughout this stressful period – you can do this by encouraging more exercise, regular breaks and by having open conversations with your team.

If flexible hours are not an option, it is important to encourage employees to switch off as much as possible when they leave work. Tasks should never be worked on outside of your working hours and emails can always wait until the next morning!

Tips for Lone Workers

During Covid-19, maintaining a healthy work-life balance is a challenge, especially for employees lone working from home. To combat this, it is important to set a schedule for your working hours as you would in the office, with regularly scheduled breaks to help reduce stress levels.

If you are working from home, consider creating a dedicated workspace. By having a dedicated workplace, you may feel better at the end of the day by distancing yourself from your desk.

However, many people will not have the space to do this – so it is encouraged that all employees take the time to make fun plans for after-work hours to have fun, relax and switch off from work.

Tips for Managers

Creating a supportive environment for your employees is essential in supporting individuals facing mental health struggles. Whilst we have already mentioned the importance of open communication, more can be done to ensure the entire workforce is on the same page in regard to mental health support.

One way to support mental health in the workplace is to get the policies right. Having a mental health policy will help to establish benchmarks for the prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and support of mental health problems in the workplace. Your mental health policy could include more on flexible working hours and open communication as previously mentioned but can also incorporate no retaliation policies that assure employees that they can talk about harmful, discriminatory or unethical behaviours without fear.

Another way to promote a supportive environment is to regularly sign-post further support for employees. By regularly promoting mental health charities, workshops and awareness days, employees can feel acknowledged and supported.

Tips for Lone Workers

As an employee, you also have a role in creating a supportive environment in the workplace. Regularly discussing mental health with your colleagues and checking up on them makes everyone feel valued and supported. It’s important that all members of the team know how to spot the signs of poor mental health to help those who are struggling. Some early signs might be:

  • Poor concentration
  • Worrying more
  • Low moods
  • Less interested in day-to-day activities
  • Panic attacks

However, mental health is not always so visible which is why it’s important to talk.

Tips for Managers

A range of additional benefits for your team can evoke change in the workplace, especially for mental health. There are a range of benefits that employers can adopt which support both work-life balance and creating a supportive work environment including flexibility, wellness programmes, free counselling and more which go towards supporting mental health.

However, employers should consider other perks for their employees including gym memberships, staff outings and other benefits which promote time away from work and positive wellbeing.

Another benefit an organisation could adopt is physical safety measures. At Safe Shores Monitoring, we have a range of handy fully accredited devices and apps which support employee safety, especially during times of high risk.

By adopting an employee safety device, employees can feel supported knowing they have a measure in place to help if they feel unsafe. Many lone workers may find themselves in harmful situations, especially in public facing roles where they may face violence, and harassment which impacts both physical and psychological health. Therefore, having a safety measure in place that can obtain them 24/7 support and priority police assistance can safeguard at risk employees when they need it most, reducing the impact of stress and anxiety.

Tips for Lone Workers

As an employee, it’s important to take advantage of additional benefits that are presented to you. Taking advantage of free perks such as gym memberships, team away days and more flexible hours should be embraced to support your mental health and to focus on yourself away from work.

In some organisations, employee benefits may not be available as of yet, so it’s important to communicate with your manager about some steps they could take to improve your wellbeing at work. For example, you could negotiate a new working week where you work one day from home or have additional breaks during your working day to give you more time to take a longer walk at lunch time. Sometimes it’s the littlest things that go beyond to improve levels of stress and anxiety at work!

Employees should also consider taking part in any training that their organisation offers, from mental health awareness to optional skill building training days. Focussing on yourself and improving your wellbeing and the wellbeing of those around you can be a positive change in the workplace and can overall impact your environment.

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