Given the uncertain economy, cost-of-living crisis and soaring inflation, there are several mounting pressures facing employees and employers alike. Now more than ever, it’s vital that employers are tuned in to how their employees are feeling whether they are working remotely, or in the office.
Symptoms of stress can appear physically, behaviourally, or indeed cognitively. Sometimes stress can manifest itself via a noticeable dip in performance or a change in behaviour but often it can be difficult to spot the signs, particularly in a hybrid/ remote work setting.
This is where the importance of communication comes in and holding regular check ins with staff are critical. This will help to draw out home and work challenges such as how people are coping emotionally, with workloads and/or home pressures and their overall sense of work life balance. As part of this, facilitating regular breaks and encouraging staff to take adequate holiday throughout the year is equally beneficial to helping preserve optimum mental, emotional, and physical health – as this creates a chance to step back, reassess and unwind.
While there will be increasing numbers of employees and employers hoping to take a break over the summer months, this isn’t always adopted by staff.
So, in recognition of World Wellbeing Week 2022, running 27th June to 1st July, which is an annual initiative celebrating the many aspects of wellbeing, Adrian Matthews, Employee Benefits Director of MetLife UK is sharing a few tips to help employers with encouraging their employees to take time out this summer.
- Ask and listen
Often overlooked but listening and responding to employees’ needs is the best starting place. While the holiday season is uplifting, there can be a knock-on impact when lots of people are on holiday at once as staff need to navigate working from a full to a temporarily reduced team which – particularly when mixed with hybrid working patterns – can be very stressful and must be handled as sensitively as possible. Taking the time to listen to individual’s feedback about ways of working day-to-day will not only ensure your team stays productive, but they’re positive too.
- Keep a close eye and try to spot signs of stress early
Recognising stress and early engagement can be hugely helpful. If you spot a team member who you think is struggling, it’s important to work together and see what help can be provided. For example, through collaboration could you reappraise deadlines, or divide tasks between the team to share the load and help meet the deadline. Mental Health First Aiders can really identify symptoms early too.
- Encourage regular breaks
With the holiday season upon us, it’s easy to overlook the value in taking regular breaks, even when you’re not gearing up for a holiday break yourself. Regardless of whether you’ve got official holiday time coming up, employers should be encouraging their teams to book out slots in their diaries and step away from their desks for short periods of time each day, throughout the year – whether they’re in the office or at home. It’s easy to start to work through lunch, or take lunch at your desk, instead of encouraging staff to take the opportunity to move and get outside. Observing some sort of daily exercise is so important for physical and mental health as working solidly in front of computer screen can lend itself to bad working habits and potentially trigger workplace stress.
- Highlight help and showcase the resources available
Employers are in the best position to refer their staff to professional mental health and wellbeing support – the moment it’s needed. By continually highlighting valuable and tangible support available through an employee benefits package helps to ensure staff know what support is available to them and crucially, how to access it when they need it. These do not always need to be crisis moments, but EAPs for example can be very helpful with day-to-day challenges. This also helps ensure they do not all turn into bigger worries and concerns.