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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.

EBOOK: Health & Wellbeing meets Health & Safety – What you need to know

By Hero Wellbeing

Let’s face it, the world has changed since the global COVID-19 pandemic and what we thought was the norm, has been replaced by new ways of thinking and working.

Health and wellbeing has been propelled into the corporate spotlight, but health and wellbeing is broad and doesn’t just sit comfortably in the HR team, it has a substantial impact on health and safety.

This ebook from hero explores how the changing face of health and safety and how the modern day health and safety manager can create happier, healthier, and more productive workforces.

Lack of employer psychological health awareness leaves staff at higher risk of depression

A year-long Australian population study has found that full time workers employed by organisations that fail to prioritise their employees’ mental health have a threefold increased risk of being diagnosed with depression.

And while working long hours is a risk factor for dying from cardiovascular disease or having a stroke, poor management practices pose a greater risk for depression, the researchers found.

The University of South Australia study, published in the British Medical Journal, is led by UniSA’s Psychosocial Safety Climate Observatory, the world’s first research platform exploring workplace psychological health and safety.

Psychosocial safety climate (PSC) is the term used to describe management practices and communication and participation systems that protect workers’ mental health and safety.

Lead author, Dr Amy Zadow, said that poor workplace mental health can be traced back to poor management practices, priorities and values, which then flows through to high job demands and low resources.

“Evidence shows that companies who fail to reward or acknowledge their employees for hard work, impose unreasonable demands on workers, and do not give them autonomy, are placing their staff at a much greater risk of depression,” said Dr Zadow.

Internationally renowned expert on workplace mental health, ARC Laureate Professor Maureen Dollard, says the study found that while enthusiastic and committed workers are valued, working long hours can lead to depression. Men are also more likely to become depressed if their workplace pays scant attention to their psychological health.

Due to the global burden of depression, which affects an estimated 300 million people worldwide and shows no sign of abating despite available treatments, more attention is now being paid to poorly functioning work environments which could contribute to the problem.

High levels of burnout and workplace bullying are also linked to corporations’ failure to support workers’ mental health.

A second paper co-authored by Professor Dollard and published in the European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology earlier this month, found that low PSC was an important predictor of bullying and emotional exhaustion.

“Lack of consultation with employees and unions over workplace health and safety issues, and little support for stress prevention, is linked to low PSC in companies.

“We also found that bullying in a work unit can not only negatively affect the victim, but also the perpetrator and team members who witness that behaviour. It is not uncommon for everyone in the same unit to experience burnout as a result.

“In this study we investigated bullying in a group context and why it occurs. Sometimes stress is a trigger for bullying and in the worst cases it can set an ‘acceptable’ level of behaviour for other members of the team. But above all bullying can be predicted from a company’s commitment to mental health, so it can be prevented,” Prof Dollard added.

The global costs of workplace bullying and worker burnout are significant, manifested in absenteeism, poor work engagement, stress leave and low productivity.

The extent of the problem was recognised in 2019 with the International Labour Organization (ILO) implementing a Global Commission on the Future of Work and calling for “a human-centred approach, putting people and the work they do at the centre of economic and social policy and business practice”.

“The practical implications of this research are far reaching. High levels of worker burnout are extremely costly to organisations and it’s clear that top-level organisational change is needed to address the issue,” Prof Dollard said.

employers advised to increase bereavement support

RedArc is warning employers to be prepared for a huge spike in the need for bereavement support services and counselling for employees during the remainder of 2021.

Based on year-to-date figures, the nurse-led wellbeing service is predicting a 40% year-on-year increase in referrals to its bereavement support, which means that it will help the largest number of bereaved individuals in one year in its 23-year history. This follows several years of bereavement referrals being relatively stable.

Further analysis of RedArc’s data shows that in quarter one of 2021, referrals for bereavement were second only to mental health conditions (of which there are many variants), and ahead of orthopaedic issues and cancer.

In addition, RedArc believes that many of the employees who lost loved ones during the second wave of the pandemic are yet to come forward for support. Bereavement, grief and loss cause a number of symptoms and emotions that individuals usually learn to cope with but where these feelings become overwhelming and do not subside, professional support may be sought several months, or even years, after the initial loss.

Christine Husbands, managing director for RedArc, said: “Employers are likely to be seeing the after-effects of the pandemic on their employees before we do, so many will already understand the impact that losing a loved in such an untimely manner is having on staff. Unfortunately, the pandemic not only took away loved ones but also removed our ability to properly grieve: not being at a loved one’s bedside, reduced numbers at funerals, social distancing, a hug ‘ban’, and being unable to see family and friends, means more people than ever are struggling with their emotions in bereavement.”

Employers need to re-familiarise with bereavement support
RedArc is encouraging all employers to re-familiarise themselves with how they support their staff during a bereavement. Whether or not this is via existing employee benefits such as group risk insurances or funded on a case-by-case basis, it’s important to communicate this information to employees.

Husbands continued:“Following the stresses and strains of the past eighteen months, employers may find that their staff are not emotionally resilient at present and therefore coming to terms with the loss of a loved one is even more difficult. In addition, many families will have organised a relatively small funeral but may be looking to host a larger celebration-of-life service or ceremony at a later date, which means the grieving process is also extended. Therefore, employers should also be aware that their employees may grieve harder and for longer than in normal circumstances.”

Types of bereavement support
As well as providing emotional support for the employee and their immediate family, bereavement services may also offer tailored support ranging from reading materials such as books, CDs, workbooks and fact-sheets as well as signposting employees towards national and local bereavement charities and self-help groups. Practical help often includes sourcing care for family members left behind, helping the employee juggle work, childcare etc, support for parents also coping with their children’s grief, and coping strategies for dealing with milestones such as anniversaries, birthdays and Christmas.

Husbands concluded:”There is no timetable for the grieving process – everyone will have a different experience. That’s why employers need to ensure they have support in place that can be tailored to meet the individual needs of staff because no-one can predict how long it will take to adjust to living without a family member or loved one particularly when lost in difficult circumstances.”

HSE releases tools to help employers manage stress in the workplace

Stress management is a big factor in health and safety which has knock-on effects for psychological wellbeing and accident prevention – so the HSE has released a series of new tools and resources to help employers manage stress in the workplace. 

The tools include online resources and new risk assessments that are intended to help employers spot signs of worker ill-mental health and develop strategies for dealing with them.

The HSE says the toll of psychological ill-health on an organisation can be really damaging, with risks including increased suicide rates and accidents due to psychological issues. These all have the ability to seriously impact health and safety.

The HSE is urging employers to review the stress-causing factors within their workplace that employees could be subjected to. With stress and depression accounting for 51% of all work-related ill health, the issue is a big problem for companies, their workforce and their efficiency, the body says.

The HSE Executive also released 6 key factors that need to be looked at when it comes to managing stress in the workplace. 

  1. Demands: workload and the work environment
  2. Control: how much control the individual has over their work
  3. Support: how much support and encouragement resources are available 
  4. Relationships: does the working environment encourage good behaviours? 
  5. Role: whether they understand their role within the organisation
  6. Change: how to change large or small is communicated

The HSE Executive’s Head of Stress and Mental Health Policy said: “It’s well known that stress can make you ill. We know that work-related stress depression and anxiety has increased in recent years, and the last year has presented new challenges that have never been faced before, and which may affect the workplaces of the UK for some time to come.

“Good communication is vital as stress affects people differently – what stresses one person may not affect another. If you don’t understand the problem or its extent, tackling it will be more difficult. Factors like skills and experience, age or disability may all affect whether an employee can cope. People feel stress when they can’t cope with the pressures or demands put on them, either in work or other outside issues. Start talking to your colleagues about any issues now – the earlier a problem is tackled the less impact it will have.”

SMEs ‘must react’ to demand and support staff’s health and wellbeing remotely

The pandemic is specifically affecting SMEs in terms of health and wellbeing benefits and what employers can do to react to employees’ changing requirements, writes Brett Hill, Distribution Director at Towergate Health & Protection…

SMEs are missing out   

SMEs often feel more restricted when it comes to employee benefits in general and healthcare benefits in particular. Whether it is due to budgetary restrictions, lack of options, or scarcity of resources, SMEs may find that they are not able to offer valued employees the rewards they would like. There are, however, options available and SMEs have the advantage of being quick to respond and adapt.

Health and wellbeing behaviours have changed 

The pandemic has resulted in long-term changes in health and wellbeing behaviours, with the issue moving up the agenda for SMEs, as they are less able to cover sick leave and absence due to self-isolation. There has been a sea-change in attitudes regarding how healthcare is accessed, with many people now actively preferring to access care remotely.

The impact of the pandemic

During the pandemic, direct access to GPs has become more difficult, with face-to-face consultations discouraged. Now, and throughout the course of 2021, is a critical time when NHS GP practices across the country will be occupied with the roll out of the UK’s Covid vaccination programme. With all of these factors combined, statistics have shown that employees may be reticent to approach their GP, and many illnesses and conditions are going undiagnosed. For example, Macmillan Cancer Support reports that 50,000 people have missed out on a cancer diagnosis due to the strains put on the NHS by Covid-19.

Healthcare access for beyond the insured workforce 

The pandemic saw the rapid roll out of online GP services to private medical insurance (PMI) customers in the spring of 2020, with many employees discovering the great time- and money-saving benefits of a virtual appointment. However, not all employers can afford to provide every employee with PMI, so there is a need for an affordable way for SMEs to extend their healthcare and online GP access beyond their insured workforce.

Alternative options

There has been a wealth of recent developments in making health and wellbeing benefits more relevant and accessible, particularly for smaller companies. An increasing number of options are becoming available and it is important that SMEs are aware of new developments.

Many smaller companies offer cash plans: insurance policies to help cover the cost of everyday healthcare, like visits to the dentist, optician, or physiotherapist. New advancements now make the value of cash plans go even further and SMEs need to be on top of changes such as preferential rates for remote physiotherapy services, which provide enhanced value for employers and better outcomes for employees.

Online wellbeing support 

Many SMEs offer access to support via an employee assistance programme (EAP), which may be linked to PMI, group insurance or on a standalone basis. Remote clinical services are growing in terms of popularity and possibilities. As demand for mental health support has surged during the pandemic, so has the availability of online counselling sessions, which are now frequently conducted via video link, and can help improve the employee experience.

Remote clinical services

Likewise support for physical wellbeing is also now possible on screen. Even treatments as physical as physiotherapy are available to employees online. Remote private GP services are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, enabling employees to receive unlimited advice, reassurance and, where appropriate, diagnosis, private prescriptions, and open referrals, from a practising doctor from wherever they are at the time they need help, even if travelling abroad.

One of the benefits of working for an SME is the close working bond that employees can have, and this is reflected in how owners and managers look after their staff, often keen to extend support to family members and dependants. Online GP services help with this, as fast access to primary care can be extended to employees’ families.

Such a service has traditionally only been available to those employees insured on PMI or group risk insurance policies, but standalone options enable companies to extend this to the whole workforce.

C-Suite execs experiencing more mental health challenges than their employees

Mental health challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic have impacted workers differently depending on their seniority, generation, and location.

That’s according to a new report by Oracle and Workplace Intelligence, which studied more than 12,000 employees, managers, HR leaders and C-Suite executive across 11 countries.

It found that C-suite executives struggled to adapt more than their employees, younger generations experienced the most burnout, and that India, UAE, China and the U.S. had the most workers reporting the pandemic has negatively impacted their mental health.

C-Suite Executives See the Biggest Challenges in Remote Work

C-level executives have struggled the most with adapting to remote work realities and report they are suffering from mental health issues more than their employees, but they are also the most open to finding help in AI.

  • C-Suite execs (53 percent) have struggled with mental health issues in the workplace more than their employees (45 percent).
  • C-Suite execs also had the hardest time adapting to virtual lifestyles with 85 percent reporting significant remote work challenges including collaborating with teams virtually (39 percent), managing increased stress and anxiety (35 percent), and lacking workplace culture (34 percent).
  • C-Suite execs were also 29 percent more likely to experience difficulties learning new technologies for remote work than employees; once they adjusted to the new normal, C-Suite execs were 26 percent more likely to find increased productivity than employees
  • C-Suite execs are the most open to using AI for help with mental health: 73 percent would prefer to talk to a robot (i.e. chatbots and digital assistants) about their mental health over a human compared to 61 percent of employees.
  • C-Suite execs are 23 percent more likely to see AI benefits than employees; 80 percent of C-Suite leaders noted AI has already helped their mental health at work.

Gen Z and Millennials are Hustlin’ Harder, Suffering More, and Seeking AI Relief

Younger workers are feeling the most burnout due to the mental health effects of the pandemic and are more open to asking AI for relief.

  • Gen Z is more likely to be negatively impacted by the pandemic than any other generation. Nearly 90 percent of Gen Z workers said COVID-19 has negatively impacted their mental health and 94 percent noted workplace stress impacts their home life as well.
  • Gen Z workers are 2X more likely than Baby Boomers to work extra hours during the pandemic, and Millennials are 130 percent more likely to have experienced burnout than Baby Boomers.
  • Younger generations are the most likely to turn to robots for support: Gen Z workers are 105 percent more likely to talk to a robot over their manager about stress and anxiety at work than Baby Boomers. 84 percent of Gen Z and 77 percent of Millennials prefer robots over humans to help with their mental health.
  • Gen Z workers are 73 percent more likely than Baby Boomers to benefit from AI at work: 90 percent of Gen Z say AI has helped their mental health at work and 93 percent want their companies to provide technology to support their mental health.

Employees in Different Countries are Experiencing Very Different Realities

Just like COVID-19, the mental health crisis has impacted people differently across the world. People in India and China are being hit the hardest and are the most open to AI support, while workers in Italy, Germany, and Japan are seeing less of an impact.

  • India (89 percent), UAE (86 percent), China (83 percent) and the U.S. (81 percent) had the most workers reporting the pandemic has negatively impacted their mental health. Workers in China (43 percent) and India (32 percent) are also the most burned out from overwork as a result of COVID-19.
  • Italy reported the lowest number of people experiencing a negative impact on their mental health from the pandemic (65 percent). Workers in Germany were the least likely to report that 2020 was the most stressful year at work ever (52 percent).
  • 29 percent of people in Japan say they have not experienced many difficulties at all working remotely or collaborating with teams virtually. In contrast, 96 percent of people in India admit it has been challenging to keep up with the pace of technology at work.
  • People in China (97 percent) and India (92 percent) are the most open to having a robot as a therapist or counsellor. People in France (68 percent) and the UK (69 percent) were the most hesitant.
  • People in India and China are 33 percent more likely to talk to a robot than their peers in other countries: 91 percent of Indian workers and 91 percent of Chinese workers would prefer a robot over their manager to talk about stress and anxiety at work.

Despite Demographics, People Need Help from Their Employers. It’s Time to Step Up

Despite seniority, generation and geographic differences, people all over the world agree: The pandemic has negatively impacted the mental health of the global workforce—and they want help.

  • 78 percent of workers say the pandemic has negatively affected their mental health.
  • 76 percent of people believe their company should be doing more to protect their mental health.
  • 83 percent would like their company to provide technology to support their mental health.

“Diving deep into the differences between demographic and regional groups highlights the significant impact of the pandemic on the mental health for employees in various age groups, roles and regions,” said Dan Schawbel, Managing Partner, Workplace Intelligence. “Amidst the challenges of the pandemic, companies can use this moment as a catalyst for positive change in their organizations. While the pandemic raised the urgency for companies to start protecting the mental health of their employees, the efforts they put in now will continue to create happier, healthier and more engaged workforces in the decades to come.”

“The pandemic put employee mental health in the global spotlight, but these findings also showed that it created growing support for solutions from employers including technologies like AI,” said Emily He, senior vice president, Oracle Cloud HCM. “The way the pandemic changed our work routines makes burnout, stress and other mental health issues all too easy. Everyone has been affected in different ways and the solutions each company puts in place need to reflect the unique challenges of employees. But overall, these findings demonstrate that implementing technology to improve the mental health of employees needs to be a priority for every business.”

Learn more about this global study and download the new report here.

10 COVID-19 recovery tips for business

By Thom Dennis, CEO at Serenity In Leadership

There has been a huge cost to the pandemic but there has also been a lot of necessary learning which needs to be integrated into current organisational cultures to be sustainable, resilient and to last beyond the pandemic. Whilst the pandemic is likely to have increased anxiety and difficulties, it will also create new perspectives as to which work practices are outdated and need to change within organisations.  Many businesses will need help to come back in 2021 and beyond, but in a very different way.  Here are Thom Dennis’ top tips:-

  1. LEADERS NEED TO LEAD.  There has never been a time more important for leaders to lead with compassion, clarity, courage and conviction. Whilst the future for many businesses is uncertain, 2021 will not be a time for going back to as we were.  It will be a year where we have to look at what worked, what didn’t, how we adapted and stayed agile and nimble, and what we need to do going forwards. 
  2. BUILD TRUST – Trust is at the core of any healthy relationship. Building, or in some cases rebuilding, trust starts through recognising each other’s efforts and showing gratitude. Being transparent and communicating clearly through shared knowledge and welcoming honest feedback are key. Experiential learning means listening openly too instead of just being ‘spoken to’. It is not possible to force people to engage, they must do it willingly. This is really not the time for token gestures.
  3. IDENTIFY PRE-EXISTING SYSTEMIC VULNERABILITIES – Look behind the wallpaper and under the carpets at how things worked and didn’t work well for the last few years, and in particular in 2020.  Business leaders need to re-evaluate long term vision, purpose, values, mission statements and goals – not as add-ons but as values to be lived and breathed throughoutthe organisation. Change is here whether we like it or not so we should always choose changing for the better. 
  4. FLEXIBLE PLAN – Leaders need to have a flexible plan that prepares for today whilst also being ready for whatever tomorrow brings in the world and workplace which are in constant flux.  Being rigid will close doors and remove opportunities.
  5. ENSURE REAL EQUALITY. Many of us are feeling increasingly insecure about our jobs at the moment, so showing unconscious bias or favouritism or providing unequal opportunities at work will deplete all aspects of the business including the bottom line. We need to create the space to hold difficult conversations, particularly if individuals are speaking from a place of frustration, anger or personal experience. A successful conversation is characterised by the amount of listening that took place.
  6. PRIORITISE WELLBEING & WORK BOUNDARIES – If we are working from home, we need to have home/work boundaries. Many of us are very efficient at working from home but some find it hard to stop working based on the need to constantly prove ourselves and the absence of a natural break brought about by the travel home. These new issues in the home and office mean employers’ priorities need to change around wellbeing. Find out what your employees need, and bear in mind that different people may well have contrasting needs. Be clear about expectations and the importance of physical and mental health. Far more than before, individuals will successfully tackle the same problem in a variety of different ways – the approach to management needs to reflect this.
  7. MAINTAIN DIVERSITY – Amplifying diverse voices will lead to a more innovative, balanced and creative workplace. Relatability and cultural sensitivity may work well with some audiences, but potentially alienate others.  We recommend workshops that try role play/switching and reverse mentoring, or storytelling through true stories as just a few ideas.  
  8. EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION – 50% of what lands when we are speaking/communicating is our body language, 43% is tone, and just 7% is the content of the words.  When it comes to being heard, it shouldn’t be about convincing people to have the same view. It is important to create spaces and cultures where people can have conversations to exchange opinions, views and understand why these may result in different emotional responses. Employees need to truly be heard, if not seen at the moment.
  9. LEARNING AS A TEAM – Unity and commitment by the whole team is needed and will only happen if everyone buys into the company’s values. Find ways to develop the team even if it’s just through virtual teamwork. Meetings, education and connection can all happen online in a safe space – establishing and maintaining psychological safety is probably more important now than ever.
  10. ALIGN THE BUSINESS – Reinvent communication and operational plans, knowing and mitigating your risks to produce the best possible outcome for the business and people who make up the business.  Tap into the thoughts of your employees, colleagues and customers at all levels to develop 20:21 vision.

Investing in mental health awareness training pays

Organisations have the opportunity to make positive cultural change and strengthen their future, whilst supporting employees with their mental health, says iHASCO

In the latest published results of the study, ‘Coronavirus: Mental Health in the Pandemic’, it has been found 64% of people feel that they are not coping with pandemic-related stress well. The temporary hope as lockdown eased has now been replaced with an understanding that the virus is still playing havoc with people’s lives. With further government restrictions introduced to try to prevent the infection rate from spiraling out of control, the uncertainties for individuals and businesses this winter remain high. With financial worries, health concerns and more, the pandemic is certainly contributing to a lack of resilience and poor mental health across the UK.

A ‘Mental Health Crisis’ 

The HSE figures for 2018/19 show that stress, depression or anxiety accounted for 44% of all work-related ill health cases, with 12.8 million working days lost. Now as a result of the pandemic, every business across the country may see a rise in mental health problems in their workforce, with figures even worse than those reported before COVID-19. Therefore, it is vital that employers can create healthy working environments and support employee mental health and wellbeing, not only to meet their legal obligations but to remain productive and to come through the other side of the pandemic in a much better place. It also presents an opportunity to contribute to breaking the negative stigma surrounding mental health, to ensure that as a nation we reach a point where it isn’t brave to open up about your mental health – rather, it’s ‘the norm’. As some organisations lead from the front, it may give others the confidence to follow and realise the positive benefits for all when tackling mental health in the workplace.

Adding to the crisis, it has been suggested in a report by the Centre for Mental Health that in the next two years 500,000 more people will experience mental ill-health conditions in the UK as a result of the pandemic. With a further period of economic downturn as a result of a second spike likely to see even more severe and longer lasting effects on mental health. 

“Now truly is the time for organisations to offer practical mental health and wellbeing support to their employees” explains Lottie Galvin, Mental Health First Aider at iHASCO. “The pandemic has shone a light on how crucial it is to acknowledge and address the emotional and mental struggles people are going through, many of whom were struggling long before COVID turned up on our doorstep.”

A recent report from Deloitte showed that employers can gain a 6:1 return on investment when supporting staff with mental health and wellbeing through organisation-wide culture/awareness raising. This could include initiatives such as tailored web portals, awareness training or personal exercise sessions. With poor mental health having the ability to hit a company’s bottom line hard, it seems like an obvious choice to address company culture if fostering a more caring, supportive attitude to mental health creates a more productive workforce. 

Implementing change

“One of the simplest and most cost-effective ways of offering mental health support is to provide your staff with Mental Health & Wellbeing eLearning” says Galvin, whose employer, iHASCO, has delivered over 115,000 online mental health-related training sessions. “It’s a starting point – our courses offer staff a way to learn and reflect privately on their feelings and behaviour, but they also empower people to find the courage to speak up. This starts to build a company culture where talking openly about our struggles becomes more commonplace and is met with kindness and understanding. Our courses also offer a variety of simple tools, tips and ideas that help learners to manage their own wellbeing and offer support to others on a daily basis. Inclusive and supportive organisations inspire a great deal of engagement, motivation, hard work and long term loyalty from a team of individuals who feel seen, heard and cared for.”

iHASCO’s Online mental health and wellbeing training courses include Mental Health Awareness, Building resilience, Managing Anxiety and Stress Awareness & Management, and offer employees easy access to quality information to support them with their wellbeing. Online awareness training can be used alongside other practices to champion employee mental health and wellbeing in the workplace, such as creating a mental health policy, offering counselling through Employee Assistance Programmes, appointing Mental Health First Aiders, regular one-to-ones with managers or simply by promoting a healthy lifestyle and making staff aware of mental health support lines offered by charitable organisations. 

The Coronavirus lockdown acted as a catalyst for starting conversations on wellbeing as employees up and down the country had their lives drastically changed almost overnight. Whether on furlough or working from home, anxiety levels were and still are at an all time high. Employers quickly had to react to this new situation and support employees, and discussions about how best to support mental health and wellbeing were underway across the nation. In times of uncertainty those equipped to better manage their anxiety levels and be resilient have been far less likely to suffer the effects of mental ill-health. Employers who address the issue of mental health and wellbeing in the workplace will reap the rewards whilst making a positive, cultural change, whilst companies not taking action may be left behind.

www.ihasco.co.uk

Do you specialise in Occupational Health & Wellbeing Services? We want to hear from you!

Each month on Health & Safety Briefing we’re shining the spotlight on a different part of the security market – and in November we’ll be focussing on Occupational Health & Wellbeing Services in the wake of COVID-19.

It’s all part of our ‘Recommended’ editorial feature, designed to help health & safety buyers find the best products and services available today.

So, if you’re a supplier of Occupational Health & Wellbeing solutions and would like to be included as part of this exciting new shop window, we’d love to hear from you – for more info, contact Charlotte Humphreys on c.humphreys@forumevents.co.uk.

Here’s our full features list:

November – Occupational Health & Wellbeing Services

December – Health & Safety Software

January – First Aid Supplies

February – Behavioural Safety

March – Training Courses

April – Incident Reporting

May – Contractor Management

June – Site Safety

July – Lone Worker Safety & Equipment

August – Fire Safety Management

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