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How to support the mental health of employees that work remotely

By Tanya Woolf, Head of Psychological Services at Onebright

Remote working has presented challenges for companies of all sizes. Regardless of the size of a company, one thing that remains true is that fostering connection and camaraderie remains key to a healthy and productive working environment, especially with workforces more evenly split between the office and home. For those who need to work remotely, random office chats are missed out on, which can often result in a distinct feeling of loneliness and a struggle to maintain motivation at a distance.

This makes regular mental health check-ins more critical than ever before. When workers feel psychologically safe to express their emotions no matter where they are working from, it will help to set a cultural foundation that will encourage and motivate them to perform to the best of their ability, as well as creating a happier and more productive workplace culture.

Not only will this benefit the mental wellbeing of your workforce, but it can also have a notable financial impact on your business. For every £1 spent supporting the mental health of your workers, you will get £5 back on your investment on average in reduced presenteeism, absenteeism and staff turnover.

What signs of loneliness do I need to look out for?

Withdrawing from interaction

When an employee begins to withdraw from consistent interaction, this is the first clear sign that they are beginning to struggle, perhaps feeling isolated or lonely. If a remote worker suddenly stops offering suggestions or participating in goal setting, they might be feeling disconnected from the team.

Missing deadlines

If a usually dependable team member starts turning in sloppy work or begins missing deadlines when working remotely, this is another good indication that they may be beginning to experience difficulties, which may include feeling disconnected or lonely.

How can I best support my remote employees?

Consistent communication

That first step that you can as an employer to help support the mental health of those working remotely is to put processes in place that facilitate meaningful, consistent communication. This can be difficult, given that it is unlikely that you will see every employee every day, especially those working remotely.

This is where signs of an employee struggling can fly under the radar for a long time. However, when managers can demonstrate their awareness and understanding of how commonplace conditions such as anxiety and depression can be, this can remove part of the stress of trying to hide the problem on those occasions when someone checks in. It may feel uncomfortable at first and even more unfamiliar in a virtual setting. Still, leaders who can talk about and show a broad spectrum of emotions are role models for healthy behaviours.

Mental health awareness training

Undertaking mental health awareness training will help to equip you with the skills and knowledge to help people better manage potential or developing mental health problems in themselves, their teams, and colleagues. As our working situations evolve, so do expectations of how employers should support their people. Employers who seek guidance from mental health experts are better able to meet the demands of the modern employee. 

Mindfulness training

Mindfulness is a state of heightened awareness of yourself, your environment, and other people. Being mindful means you are very aware of your thoughts and feelings, but you do not react or judge them. One study has measured the relationship between mindfulness amongst management teams and their employees; it showed that as mindfulness increased, employee work-related stress improved work-life balance and enhanced engagement. 

Online mental health therapy

Finally, with waiting times for public mental health services at an all-time high, business leaders should look to provide their workforces with the option of easily accessible, online mental health therapy services as a fast and efficient first step to help those who need support.

Recent studies have found that when combined with clinical care, online Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can effectively treat depression, anxiety, and emotional distress, whilst many other studies have also demonstrated that online CBT is equally as effective at reducing the severity of depression symptoms as in-person CBT.

86% of employers think employees require more support for health and wellbeing since the pandemic

Of the four pillars of health and wellbeing – mental, physical, social, and financial health – mental health has been placed as the top issue for concern from employers and also the area where employees would most like more support, with 40% of employers saying they are more concerned about the mental health of staff since the pandemic.  

That’s according to the results from Towergate Health & Protection’s research into the changes in health and wellbeing support needed by employees since the pandemic.

Increasing concerns 

Employers are also now more concerned about all areas of health and wellbeing:

  • 22% are more concerned about the physical health of employees, with difficulty getting to see GPs, pressures on the NHS, and delays in being diagnosed and treated for serious conditions. 
  • 17% are more concerned for the financial health of employees since the pandemic. 
  • 13% are more concerned about social health including, for instance, increased isolation.

Changing expectations
Over half (53%) of employers say their employees would like more mental health support since the pandemic. Forty-one percent feel that social support is needed more than previously. Over a third (36%) believe their staff now want more support for their financial health, and another third (36%) also think employees want more help with their physical health since the pandemic. 

Overall, this means that 86% of employers believe employee expectations have changed and that they require more support for their health and wellbeing since the pandemic. 

Larger corporates Vs SMEs
The impact of the pandemic on mental health effect appears to have been felt more by employees in larger companies. Nearly half (49%) of employers in companies with 250+ staff said they are more concerned about the mental health of staff since the pandemic. This compares to 37% of SMEs. 

Nearly three-quarters (74%) of large corporates said employees would like more mental health support than previously, compared to less than half (46%) of SMEs. 

Brett Hill, head of distribution for Towergate Health & Protection, said: “Employers need to re-evaluate their healthand wellbeing support in the wake of Covid. Working practices have changed and so have attitudes and expectations. It is important for any health and wellbeing programme to recognise the changing needs of employees and to be adaptable as we adjust to life post-pandemic.”  

Surveying needs
A good way to re-evaluate and reposition health and wellbeing is to start by asking employees what they want. This may be through a simple survey or a more complex mix of ideas forums, research, and focus groups. Being aware that requirements may have changed is an important first step.   

Making help available
While mental health has been highlighted as the biggest issue, the research shows that increased support is required across all four of the pillars of health and wellbeing. Employers need to ensure that employees have access to the support that will most benefit them and meet with their individual requirements.   A benefits platform can also assist here where employees can access all benefits in one place. 

Mental health support can be available in many forms, from talking with colleagues and managers, to offering access to specialist independent counselling. 

Health and fitness benefits have advanced greatly recently. There are now a great many apps, reward schemes and groups to help encourage staff to have a healthy lifestyle, including starting and maintaining fitness regimes. The pandemic has seen a rise in the use of virtual GPs and online consultations, and these can make appointments easier to arrange and quicker to attend. 

It is social lives that have perhaps changed the most throughout the pandemic. It is important for employers to look at new ways to allow employees to socialise together, especially if a move has been made to hybrid working. 

Financial health must not be forgotten. Financial concerns can cause a great deal of stress, leading itself to physical, mental and social ill health. Benefits that help people manage their finances, and that offer a direct financial benefit can be a great support to employees.

Hill concluded: ‘There have been a lot of challenges for businesses and their workforces to deal with during the pandemic, and these have affected all areas of health and wellbeing. Now is a good time for employers to look at solutions available for them to help their staff.’

73% of employees will choose next employer based on health and wellbeing support

A survey of UK employers and employees has shown that while just over half (56%) of employers admit they regularly check in with all employees to enquire about their health and wellbeing and 55% provide laptops, 73% of employees are ready to choose their next employer based on physical, health and wellbeing support and flexible technology provision.

The Future of Work survey by Ergotron, a global company designing and manufacturing ergonomic solutions to improve workspaces and interaction with technology, revealed that despite 88% of employers seeing the importance of bringing  IT devices when working in different rooms, almost a quarter (23%) of employers disagreed that the provision of the right ergonomic work conditions and support in employees’ health and overall well-being would be a strong asset in talent acquisition.

This rose to 43% in organisations with 250-500 employees, and a staggering 64% of HR industry respondents. However, the finance and tech sectors most appreciate the significance of these factors, with 80% of those in IT/telecoms and 75% of those in finance agreeing the importance.

However, employers appear to have the ambition to make a success of remote working, appreciating the importance of an agile working environment. 73% think it’s important for workers to be able to switch between sitting and standing to support their physical needs while at work (87% of businesses with 250-500 employees) and over half (52%) of workers consider it important.

Due to the need to collaborate with remote teams, and to work from home, the office or other locations, flexibility of technology, and portability of devices, has become critical too. 77% of employees and 88% of employers agreed on the importance of being able to bring their IT devices with them when working in different rooms. Yet only 55% of employers claim they are supplying a laptop to workers for home, office or third space.

Results of the survey showed a clear disparity in terms of equipment employees deem essential  and what employers provide. Despite 89% of workers and 89% of employers citing a laptop as important, only 65% of all employees claim to have been provided one and 55% of employers admit to providing one. 75% of workers and 81% of employers concurred on the importance of an ergonomic chair, yet again, only 19% of workers claimed employers had supplied them with one.

With an increasing amount of technology applications required for typical work roles, 65% of employers said it’s important to have a large screen monitor (between 30 – 49 inches) but less than a third (28%) of employees have been supplied one and 30% of employers admitted they had provided one. 15% of workers claimed employers had not provided any equipment at all – including a laptop, ergonomic chair, large monitor, or a subsidy for equipment. While 30% of employers claim to offer a subsidy to workers to buy their own equipment, only 17% of employees claim they have been offered this.

Richard Guy, Country Sales Manager UK & Ireland at Ergotron, said: “We’re now in the third year of a new workstyle for most organisations, and business leaders should by now have assessed their workspaces and at least be in planning to deliver for workers’ needs – their organisation’s biggest asset. The importance of the need for adaptable workstyles has grown hugely to build safe, healthy, productive, and collaborative working environments – and workers’ needs sit well above what their employers are currently providing. Most alarming is the lack of attention to workers’ comfort and wellbeing while at work. In addressing this and other dedicated resources for a remote or hybrid workstyle, employers will provide supportive working environments which attract and retain staff, which is the making of a business. Given the business need for digital agility, deferring remote working provision will hold organisations back regardless of size or sector.”

Remote working has affected the way three in five employers support the health and wellbeing of staff

Fifty-nine per cent of employers say that the change in working patterns to a more remote or hybrid approach has affected the way they support the health and wellbeing of staff, according to research from GRiD, the industry body for the group risk protection sector.

Of those employers who stated that working patterns had affected the way they support the health and wellbeing of staff:

  • 49% said they have made it easier for staff to access support and benefits remotely e.g. via apps and online
  • 43% said they have introduced benefits to support employees in this new way of working e.g. for their mental and physical health
  • 38% said that they have increased support that can be accessed remotely e.g. virtual GPs and virtual physio

Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for GRiD said: “Employee benefits providers and, in particular, those that offer health and wellbeingsupport, were really swift to respond to the challenges presented by the pandemic. The pace of change has been breath-taking. 

“We are now in a situation where many employee benefits, including embedded support within employer-sponsored life assurance, income protection and critical illness, have improved in two distinct ways. The method of delivery has been expanded to include additional digital channels to meet the support requirements of employees, no matter where or when they need it. Secondly, the type of support has also broadened: for instance through the likes of online physiotherapy, nutrition and fitness advice; meditation and mindfulness apps; computerised Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT); and access to virtual GPs and nurse practitioners. Some had been available previously, but have now become much more mainstream.”

Given that so much has changed, GRiD believes that employers would be prudent to benchmark their wellbeing provision against current support available and make sure they keep pace with developments, especially in supporting a hybrid workforce.

Moxham continued: “Employers may be under the illusion that they offer really innovative wellbeing support but they may be surprised just how much things have moved on if it hasn’t been reviewed for a number of years. The repercussions of the pandemic are very much still in evidence and employers have a duty to ensure they are providing the very best wellbeing support available.”

How to support new employees’ holistic health this National Careers Week

By Cheryl McKown, Apprenticeship and Graduate Senior Manager for Bupa Global & UK

A tumultuous 24 months has led many people to think carefully about their careers and many are now looking for a change in career or a new role that will be fulfilling and rewarding. 

New starters benefit businesses, as they bring fresh perspectives and up to date industry insights, and successful placements can lead to productive, long-term working relationships. So how can businesses ensure that they are fully supporting their new recruits to stay happy, healthy and motivated?

Create supportive networks
Helping your new starter to grow into your team starts with getting to know them. It’s important to embrace what makes them different and in doing this, you’ll create an environment where everyone is encouraged to be themselves. 

Think about ways you can help new people bond and collaborate with others at their level – for example, you could create a buddy or mentor system, connecting new starters with those who have a little more experience, as well as providing access to dedicated online forums and channels.

Employees who feel that their organisation takes an active interest in their wellbeing are more likely to stay motivated, engaged and loyal. Think about arranging informal get-togethers, either virtually or in person to help them to feel part of the team from the off.

Encourage a good work-life balance
Particularly at first, some people may find a new role challenging and time consuming as they get to know the ins and outs of the business.

Instil good time management skills by working together with your new starter to plan how they’ll manage their time. In getting to know them, you’ll get an idea of how they use their free time and what a good work-life balance looks like for them. 

Work-life balance is really important in protecting against things like burn out, anxiety and stress, so make sure your people are also building in time let off steam and recharge.

Some people love yoga, others prefer to hit the gym and some might find cooking or crafts help them relax. Getting enough sleep is also crucial.

Embrace diversity
As well as celebrating individualism, embracing those from different demographics and with different cognitive styles helps to open the floor to ideas from all employees at all levels. This can harness insightful views from a range of backgrounds, leading to a wider understanding of what your business offers and can provide, from a diverse mindset.

If your new starter is from a background that’s not yet well represented across the rest of your organisation, think about how you can specifically support them so that they feel comfortable and included. 

At Bupa Global & UK, we launched the ‘Be You at Bupa’ commitment to reiterate that everyone in our business – from all backgrounds – can feel comfortable bringing their whole self to work every day. By celebrating and supporting people’s differences, we aim to promote collaboration, encouraging everyone to feel comfortable working here.

Feedback is key
Taking the time to check in with your new starter can go a long way to helping them feel listened to and appreciated, which can foster better wellbeing and company loyalty. Additionally, an open-door approach can help people to feel psychologically safe approaching you with any queries or concerns about their learning.

A simple ‘thank you’ or ‘well done’ goes a long way to boosting employees’ feeling of worth. Feeling properly rewarded for workplace efforts helps to boost mental wellbeing and decrease stress.

Regular appraisals or one-to-one sessions give you and your employee the chance to speak freely, helping you to gauge what they are enjoying and make any adjustments to help them enjoy their role more. As well as listening to them, these check-ins provide the chance to provide any constructive feedback, too.

Promote good all-round health
If you introduce your new starter to a workplace culture that places value on the benefits of being honest and open about both mental and physical help, they’re more likely to follow suit and feel confident to put their health first if they ever need to.

Promoting a positive culture like this will encourage your new team member – as well as the rest of your team – to bring their full self to work. Finding out what makes your people tick can help you to understand them better, spot any signs that they need further support, and generate an inclusive team spirit with increased productivity.

You can help to further support your employees by ensuring that they’ve got access to employee wellbeing services, like Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs), GP appointments or health assessments.

Wellbeing in the Workplace: How utilising tech can benefit wellbeing ways of working

As we move ever closer to the two-year anniversary of the first UK coronavirus lockdown, the technology around us has found new applications, both at home and in the office, to improve the health and wellbeing of staff across the world. The world of hybrid working, remote meetings, working from home and the “always-on” culture has rapidly evolved and developed with the advancements of new and emerging technology.

Don’t forget the remote! 

With more people than ever working at home, it’s crucial for businesses and employers to ensure there is the technology in place to allow teams to collaborate with employees who are remote and on-site. Recreating the experience of in-person participation for remote employees can significantly reduce the likelihood of loneliness, depression, and anxiety and ensure that remote workers feel valued and included.

Not only that, but the introduction of tools such as Miro (the virtual collaborative whiteboard tool) or Google Workspace can further support remote involvement and engagement with colleagues, providing wellbeing benefits through socialisation, as well as a sense of purpose and direction within their work, keeping staff engaged and morale high.

Managing staff concerns in 2022

With two-thirds of people concerned about returning to the office, a common problem for employers is trying to entice those members of staff back, with health, safety and wellbeing at work remaining high on the agenda.

As employers, it’s imperative to now consider both the physical and psychological needs of staff when returning to work. According to Gensler, the global architecture and design firm, “People need to feel healthy and safe. It’s not enough to have a space that’s built to be safe. We actually need to make the healthiness of our spaces visible.”

But how do we do that? By investing in technologies that keep people safe in the workplace, helping to reduce levels of anxiety and stress within the workforce. Examples to consider can include space management tools to track workplace density and create socially-distanced floor plans, or even introducing touchless technology, such as touchless entry, access control, temperature screenings, to integrate employee wellbeing into the fabric of the shared workspace.

The Future of Wellbeing Tech

It won’t end there. The future of workplace technology knows no bounds. Some expert opinions of the future could see desks and meeting rooms offering real-time feedback on health and wellness if you’ve been working for too long without a break. ​​Smart glass technology could allow staff to tint glass to control glare and optimise daylight, reducing eye strain and headaches. The exposure to more natural light will also decrease drowsiness and boost happiness in the workplace.

Wellbeing of staff is crucial to the recovery of the workplace post-Covid and the expert team at hero can help provide you with tools, support and best practice needed to implement the very best health and wellbeing provision that contributes to improving all four pillars of health – mental, social, financial and physical health. 

With access to hero’s award-winning wellbeing platform, Navigator, your team will gain access to evidence-based,  research-led solutions to not only plan an effective wellbeing strategy, but to execute and implement it efficiently. For more information please get in touch with hero.

workplace mental health – more important than ever before?

By Claire Price, QMS International

Mental illness has risen to be a leading cause of workplace illness, pushing it to the top of the health & safety agenda. But what exactly is the scale of the issue, and more importantly, what can employers do to promote positive mental health & well-being in the workplace?

In the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) 2020/21 report for health & safety statistics at work, the scale of poor mental health and well-being in the workplace was revealed.

According to its statistics, 50% all cases of new and long-standing work-related ill health were a product of stress, depression or anxiety, making these mental health conditions the leading causes of work-related illness during 2020/21, mirroring the results found the previous year. In total, this means that 822,000 workers were reported to be stressed, anxious or depressed as a result of work in 2020/21.

Over the last few years this figure has been steadily growing – an upward trend that is likely to continue. The pandemic has undoubtedly worsened this. According to the Employee well-being during a pandemic: Global insights for health and safety at work report by Lloyds Register in 2020, stress increased dramatically during the initial COVID-19 breakout with 70% of those questioned reporting an increase in work-related stress during the period of March to December 2020. This was linked to employee shortages due to sickness, redundancy or furlough, which ramped up the workloads of those who remained.

Remote working, while positive for some, also caused feelings of isolation in others. Indeed, the Lloyds report revealed that 17% of those surveyed felt alone while a significant 48.4% stated that their working lives had become worse since being forced to work remotely.

With 17.9 million working days being lost in 2019/20 due to stress, anxiety and depression, there is certainly a clear motive for employers to act. Many workers felt unsupported during the first year of the pandemic (just 15% of those questioned in the Lloyds report said that they were given resources on well-being), which demonstrates that there is a clear gap that employers need to fill if they are truly to keep their workers happy, healthy and safe.

Establishing the psychosocial risks
If you want to do something to support the mental health of your employees you first need to establish the workplace risk factors for mental ill health, otherwise known as psychosocial risks.

Psychosocial risks are essentially anything that can affect a worker’s psychological response to their job role or working conditions. Typical psychosocial risks can include:

  • large workloads
  • pressured deadlines
  • a lack of worker control
  • monotony
  • a lack of rewards

To begin to establish the psychosocial risks for your workplace, start by looking at your employee sick leave records. Trends for illnesses such as headaches or musculoskeletal disorders (which can be the result of tension from stress) are typical red flags. Any logs for psychological injury or illness should also be noted.

Other records you may like to examine include grievance records, overtime logs and meeting minutes, which may include mention of heavy workloads, job role changes or a request for more support.

It’s important to engage your employees at this stage too. A survey could be particularly helpful if your staff work remotely. It’s also worthwhile taking a walk around your organisation if your employees are on site. Are there understaffed areas, signs of illness such as colds, or people who seem irritable or frustrated? All of these can be the result of psychosocial risks.

Once you have a list of risks for your workplace, prioritise them by listing the consequences and their likelihood of occurrence.

Implementing solutions
Once you have a prioritised list of psychosocial risks you can begin to develop controls to mitigate or remove them. For instance, you may need to re-evaluate workloads or shift patterns, hire additional staff or offer training.

Good communication is also vital. A common complaint in the Lloyds report was that employers did not provide support materials for mental health and well-being, so make sure that these are offered. You may want to download and use materials from a mental health charity to help you.

It can also be useful to train a team of mental health first aiders. Mental health first aiders are trained to recognise the signs of mental illness and can signpost colleagues to relevant support, such as the GP, therapy or support groups. As a fellow colleague, they act as a non-judgemental listening ear and an easy-to-access port of call for those who want to talk. Their role can also help to promote workplace positivity and the reduction of stigma surrounding mental ill health.

Offering an occupational health service or employee assistance programme can be helpful for both you and your employees too. These programmes can give you and your workers access to qualified specialists for support or confidential counselling. Some schemes also run rehabilitation programmes, which can help you to bring workers back to work in a safe and timely way.

Finally, you could create a more comprehensive set of processes designed to protect your workers mental health and well-being with ISO 45003, a new Standard for psychological health & safety at work.

This Standard is designed to help employers identify the conditions and workplace demands that could affect the psychological health and well-being of workers and develop processes that can manage these risks.

This helps organisations create a more positive workplace and build resilience and productivity. With the right processes in place, employers can also work towards reducing absences as a result of mental ill health. The Standard also features guidelines for modern ways of working, such as remote or hybrid workplaces, which means that employers can create strong processes that also protect workers who don’t work in the organisation’s buildings or during office hours.

Analyse and reflect
Once you have found your workplace’s psychosocial risks and created controls for them, you need to ensure that they are effective. Indicators of effectiveness include a reduction of workplace accidents or absences, reduced work hours or overtime, or positive feedback from staff surveys.

Work-related mental illness is already a significant issue and is very unlikely to diminish any time soon. By implementing effective solutions now, you can work to ensure that your organisation offers workers the support they need to do their jobs safely and efficiently, rewarding your business with greater productivity and a workforce with great morale.

QMS International is one of the UK’s leading ISO certification providers.

The long and short of it: The effects of long Covid in the workplace

If health and safety professionals were in any doubt about it, it’s clear that the long-term effects of COVID-19 will be felt and discussed for many years to come, with many employees still feeling the daily effects, due to what is known as “Long Covid.”

A recent Office of National Statistics study indicates that over one-fifth of those diagnosed with COVID-19 are still suffering the ‘long’ symptoms for the following five weeks, while one-in-ten presented symptoms that lasted for three months or longer.

But what is ‘long COVID?

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) identifies Long COVID as lasting for a duration longer than 12 weeks. The Guardian recently estimated that 376,000 people in the UK have been suffering from Long Covid for more than a year, with older patients, women, those with underlying health conditions and those in their 40-50s most likely affected. Symptoms can include:

  • Fatigue, or extreme tiredness
  • Breathlessness and difficulty in breathing
  • Racing pulse
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Prolonged fever
  • Dizziness
  • “Brain fog” – not being able to concentrate or think clearly

Managing employees with Long Covid

While most natural reactions would be to isolate and encourage Long COVID sufferers to work from home, it is not infectious. The reintroduction of these employees to a stable workplace may in fact aid some of the mental issues caused by Long COVID, including depression and loneliness.

In certain circumstances, a healthcare package or offering for staff is key. Private healthcare options can provide employees with access to healthcare, both physically and mentally to help manage their symptoms. Provision will also give staff a higher level of satisfaction, even if only they appreciate the feeling of being able to access help voluntarily.

The camaraderie and support through the initial months of the pandemic was crucial, and employers should continue to foster this spirit adequately in order to support staff and colleagues affected by changes to their working patterns. 

Wellbeing is an important part of the Long COVID journey. It impacts all pillars of health from mental, social, physical and financial. The expert team at hero can help you to create a COVID recovery package that will help and support you and your teams effectively manage this area. For more information please get in touch with hero.

Mental and Social Health Recognition and Support and the impact on Health and Safety

By Hero Wellbeing

The past 18 months have been a testing time for everyone and with a significant reduction in social interaction, more employers are recognising their responsibility to protect the mental health of their employees and provide a positive work environment and much of the practical implication lie within our colleague in the health and safety world. 

Mental health problems in the UK workforce cost employers almost £35 billion last year, according to research published by the Centre for Mental Health. The heightened stress that the pandemic has created has further emphasised the importance of addressing mental health concerns.

Remote working has also created a unique set of mental and social health challenges related to work-life balance and the loss of workplace belonging and social interaction. As restrictions are lifted and things return to a semblance of normality in the UK, mental health will continue to be a crucial topic for businesses to address. 

As well as the impact seen because of COVID, key challenges such as an ageing workforce and technology dependence remain within an organisation, giving even greater importance for companies to develop and implement an effective support plan and wellbeing strategy for its staff.

Mental health has long been a taboo subject, but with an increase in discourse over the course of the pandemic, it needs to become an everyday function of an organisation’s health and safety culture. Here’s some ways to do that: 

  • Provide mental health training to supervisors and managers
  • Provide employee assistance programs, community resources, and online tools – ​​ensuring they are scalable and customisable at an organisation level while still ensuring it can be tailored and personalised to the individual for maximum personal benefit
  • Keep leadership and their H&S colleagues informed of mental health concerns that could affect employees
  • Ensure workplace harassment policies and programs are in place and share information about policies and programs with employees. 

To ensure your health and wellbeing policies are fit for purpose for 2022 take our audit here and for more information about how hero can help and support you with areas of health and wellbeing; both reactive and preventative, on going strategy or training and upskilling workshops, please get in touch and book a meeting. 

Lack of psychological safety in work ‘could hinder inclusion initiatives’

New data reveals that over a tenth of the workforce do not want to be identified when discussing their feelings towards inclusion in the workplace, sparking concerns for the psychological safety of employees at work.

The report from Inpulse also shows that groups that wish to remain anonymous are less likely to feel positive about being themselves at work. For example,individuals who do not disclose their ethnicity feel 43% less positive about being themselves at work than those who disclose their ethnicity, individuals that don’t disclose their gender feel 14% less positive about being themselves at work than those who reveal their gender and individuals that don’t disclose their disability status feel 18% less positive than those who disclose their ability status.

According to Inpulse, these statistics highlight a cultural concern for employers around the psychological safety they are creating for their employees within diversity and inclusion initiatives. They warn that organisations must help their employees feel more comfortable about talking openly about their experiences or risk being unable to identify the groups and areas that need most support. 

Matt Stephens, CEO of Inpulse, said: “Creating psychological safety is essential for successful D&I and engagement strategies so that employees feel comfortable expressing their true concerns so employers can accurately target issues that stifle their employees’ achievements and wellbeing. 

“If there’s a strong belief among employees that they will be punished or embarrassed for speaking openly with their ideas, questions and concerns, then there is a real problem with the psychological safety of employees. 

“However, the fact that 1 in ten workers feels this way is particularly concerning. When an emotion is felt by more than 10% of the workforce, this is the point in which it becomes dominant within a culture and can be felt strongly by others in the group – potentially negatively impacting business performance.”

Emphasising the problem further, Inpulse’s survey reveals that while many employees agree that their organisation is inclusive, they are less likely to agree that this is due to encouragement from their employer. On average, 80% agreed that the culture within the organisation is inclusive to all, regardless of differences; however, just 69% agreed that their organisation encourages diversity and inclusion.

To improve their D&I strategies, Inpulse provides five ways employers can develop psychological safety for employees:

1. Quash negativity

Negativity can be as contagious as positivity, therefore leaders must address negative attitudes before they begin to create psychological safety at work. For example, if people hear a colleague speaking badly of a team member then they may worry the person will do the same to them. Leaders should tackle negativity by giving constructive feedback to negative colleagues and counteracting it with a warm and positive atmosphere.

2. Show empathy 

To emphasise that you truly care about employee concerns, really listen to how they are feeling. Demonstrate that you are taking their thoughts on board too by playing back to them what you have heard and thanking them for their feedback.

3. Include colleagues in decision making 

Gather input from your team and colleagues when making decisions, particularly ones that will affect them. Collaborating with others will not only produce the best outcome but will also help people feel valued and a sense of belonging.

4. Admit when you make mistakes 

Leaders must own up to their mistakes and celebrate failures as learnings. This will help team members understand that they won’t be punished for their own mistakes and also help them feel more comfortable speaking up when there are problems.

5. Promote healthy conflict 

Emphasise to your team that healthy conflict can lead to innovation, giving people permission to disagree. Ask questions in a certain way that allows people to feel that you are debating their ideas rather than judging them as a person because of their ideas. 

Data taken from employee emotion surveys conducted in 2021. For survey responses regarding whether employees feel they can be themselves at work, there were 7743 respondents. For survey responses regarding whether employees feel that the culture in their organisation is inclusive to all regardless of differences, there were 6284 respondents.