Data from health and wellbeing provider Health Assured has revealed that the number of people calling for stress and anxiety support on its EAP (employee assistance programme) helpline increased by 22% in the first three weeks of September compared to the first three weeks in August. In comparison to the same time last year, calls regarding stress and anxiety had nearly doubled with an increase year on year of 44%.
The coronavirus pandemic has been an emotional rollercoaster for many. Unsurprisingly, rapidly increasing coronavirus cases and rumours of a second lockdown have unnerved lots of people.
If employees are stressed and anxious right now, it’s the job of an employer to provide reassurance. So, how can they provide reassurance for staff who are feeling worried?
David Price, workplace wellbeing expert and CEO of Health Assured, has offered some advice on how businesses can support employees who are struggling with anxiety and stress during this challenging time:
“With the coronavirus pandemic rumbling on, it’s more important than ever to look after ourselves and each other.
“Adapting to the situation is a daily process, everyone is doing their best. Employers need to adapt, too— honouring their duty of care to their employees as best they can, and keeping an eye on how people are coping.
“Spotting the signs of stress can be easy when dealing with an employee face-to-face. However, with many staff working remotely this can be harder. Considering this, employers should be arranging regular video calls. This could be with an entire team or on a one-to-one basis. If video calls are a no-go, an email or text will also suffice. Talking people through their worries can help them work through and overcome those worries.
“It’s also important to remind them that it is natural to be stressed and anxious at a time like this. In fact, some experts suggest people should set aside time each day to allow themselves to worry. By freeing their thoughts, they will rid their system of worry and feel better for the rest of the day.
“Meditation and mindfulness, which is paying attention to the present moment, are relaxing options that can improve mental wellbeing.
“Meanwhile, recommend that they limit the amount of news they read and watch and aim for a daily roundup as constant negative headlines can have a detrimental effect on people’s mental health.
“Finally, a stress management policy will help your business tackle stress at work. Include information on all potential workplace stressors and state the steps you’ll take to cut out or control them. For example, you could include that you regularly monitor your remote employees’ hours and overtime to ensure they aren’t overworking. Remember, the policy will apply to everyone in your company. In the end, it’s up to you to enforce it and stay within the rules of the Health and Safety at Work Order 1978.
“If you don’t have a policy, it’s a good idea to make one soon to support any workers still on your premises—as well as those working from home. If it’s helpful, think about talking it through with a health & safety expert.
“At the moment, the world is quickly changing. It’s best to deal with it one day at a time.”