Many of us, encounter varying degrees of stress throughout the course of our working days. However, when faced with unprecedented times like COVID-19 this causes additional stressors and affects individual’s well-being. Workplace stress occurs “when the demands of the job and the working environment on a person exceeds their capacity to meet them”.
The emergence of COVID-19 as a public health emergency by the World Health Organization has led to a number of precautionary measures such as quarantines, social distancing or in some cases total lockdown in region or countries around the world. These measures which are in place to protect and save lives can affect an individual’s well-being and cause unwelcome stressors. Tackling the pandemic and preventing its further spread is vital for society. The impact of isolation and loneliness should not be under-estimated or fall to the bottom of employers’ lists of priorities as inaction now will lead to high human and financial costs later on.
EMPLOYERS DUTY OF CARE:
Employers have a duty of care to employees. This is reinforced in the Safety Health and Welfare at Work Act, 2005. It is wise for employers to have a procedure in place to tackle the issue should they identify an employee experiencing a high level of anxiety due to COIVID-19. This not only empowers the employer to take action to help the employee, but it also shows the employee experiencing anxiety or stress and other co-workers that the company cares and that they are willing to help alleviate such instances.
BENEFITS OF IMPROVED WELLBEING:
Improved workplace wellbeing can lead to sustained improvements within the workplace including increased creativity, improved employee loyalty, improved productivity and better overall customer satisfaction. In light of this information, many employers are now concentrating on workplace wellbeing initiatives and have achieved considerable improvements from doing so. Ensuring wellbeing is inherent in the workplace will give rise to benefits such as retention of healthy happy employees, decreased rates of illness/injury, reduced absenteeism, increased productivity, increased morale and satisfaction.
OUR TOP TIPS ON HOW TO MANAGE WELLBEING IN YOUR WORKPLACE ADMIST COVID-19?
Awareness & Proactiveness: Employers should ensure that demands that are placed on employees are reasonable. It is best practice that if employers become aware of staff members suffering from anxiety due to workload or a worry in relation to COVID-19 they take action immediately to ascertain the cause and identify ways of helping the individual, if any.
Policies: Policies and procedures can be put in place to protect and support employees and can include a Coronavirus Proactive Policy and Dignity and Respect at Work Policy.
Information: Provide information on general online wellness ideas i.e. online exercise details, online nutritional information, supports groups and emergency numbers to help support employees.
EAP: To help support employees an Employee Assistance Programme could be offered which is a free and confidential to the employee. This is a service that provides advice and counselling supports to employees in times of need. EAP’s are generally available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year and are accessible by phone, email and online. For further enquiries on an EAP please contact The HR Suite office on the details below for a quote.
Maintain Communication: In an era when digital technology is an integral part of people’s live employers can use this tool effectively. Meet with employees (adhering to social distancing or via virtual means) on a regular basis. If this cannot be done face to face due to social distancing restrictions the employer should ensure to facilitate weekly online meetings one to one to discuss performance and goals. Have brainstorming sessions with your team for improving happiness and well-being at work.
Culture: Create an open environment for employees to learn about their own well-being and share ideas with their colleagues during these unprecedented times.
Online Training: Provide online training on a number of topics to help reduce stress or to create awareness; time management, wellbeing and mental health awareness, dignity and respect etc.
These are just a few examples of activities that can be adapted in your workplace to reduce the mental health effects of the pandemic. Measures to combat people’s isolation, loneliness, anxiety and panic; and improve people’s well-being, can contribute to the successful reconstruction of our workplace, when some normality returns, and people can return to their daily working lives.
The HR Suite can advise you and your organisation how to be proactive in introducing wellbeing awareness to your organisation. If you require further information or advice on the above, please do not hesitate to contact our HR Consultants on (01)9014335 or (066)7102887.