Advice for employers on the impact of coronavirus on employee health and wellbeing
Workplace Health and Wellbeing – Advice for employers on the impact of coronavirus on employee health and wellbeing. This note contains:
- Helpful Tips
- Dealing with home working and self-isolation
- Mental health support
- Staying active
- Policies and Procedures
The most up to date business information is available from our Coronavirus page.
The coronavirus (Covid-19) and the potential threats of the virus to our physical health, together with the recent Government measures announced to slow down the spread of the virus, could have a major impact on the mental health and wellbeing of your employees:-
- Your employees may be worried about the coronavirus and how it could affect their life. This may include them being asked to stay at home and avoid public places or self-isolate.
- Your employees may be worried about catching the virus particularly if they have relatives or friends that are vulnerable or they themselves have a long term physical health condition that may make them more vulnerable.
- Your employees may have financial worries for a number of reasons relating to the continuation of their job or their partners job if they have to remain off work or if they have to work reduced hours. They may also have childcare issues and are worried about school closures which may mean they are unable to work as they have to look after their children or grandparents who are more vulnerable will be looking after their children.
Every Mind Matters – See the 10 tips to help if you are worried about coronavirus and tips around mental wellbeing if you are staying at home. It links to the content already available on the site around home workouts, reframing unhelpful thoughts, mindful breathing and sleep tips.
Whilst it is important to stay informed here are some tips for your employees on what they can do to support and manage their wellbeing during such times.
- Try and avoid speculation and look up reputable sources of the outbreak– rumour and speculation can fuel anxiety. Having access to good quality information can help them feel in control
- Try to stay connected – at times of stress we work better in company and with support. Keep in touch with friends and family. Stay in touch on social media but try and not sensationalise. If they are sharing information content make sure it is from a trusted source.
- Talk to children – during times of crisis children are more likely to seek attachment and be demanding on their parents. Ask children what they have heard and support them without alarm Minimise the negative impact it has on children and explain the facts but try and avoid over exposure to the coverage.
- Try and anticipate distress -It is normal to feel vulnerable and overwhelmed as we hear news especially if they have experienced trauma or a mental health problem or have a health problem that makes them more vulnerable. It is important to remind each other to look after our physical and mental health and avoid increasing habits that may not be helpful in the long term such as increased smoking and drinking.
- Try not to make assumptions– Don’t judge people and avoid jumping to conclusions about who is responsible for the spread of the disease. The Coronavirus can affect anyone regardless of gender or ethnicity.
- Try to manage how you follow the outbreak in the media- There is extensive coverage in the news if this is causing stress it’s important to find a balance. Limit your news intake if it is bothering you.
DEALING WITH SELF ISOLATION
This may seem to be a daunting prospect, see it as a different period in your life and not necessarily a bad one. It will be a different rhythm of life a chance to be in touch with others in different ways than usual. Keep in touch with others regularly on social media or email or on the phone. Create a daily routine that prioritises looking after yourself such as reading, watching movies, undertaking exercises, trying relaxing techniques or finding new knowledge on the internet. Try and rest and view this as an unusual experience.
There are a number of sources of information that you may wish to provide to your employees to help them manage their own mental health and wellbeing.
- Coping with stress
- WHO factsheet
- Every Mind Matters
- Mental Health Foundation
PHYSICAL HEALTH SUPPORT
Keeping active will help you and your employee’s mental and physical health:
YOUR POLICIES AND PROCEDURES
CIPD has some resources on their website which will help – they have templates for business continuity plans, letters to employees etc. and even downloadable posters for display in the workplace. They also have a useful checklist and FAQs https://www.cipd.co.uk/news-views/coronavirus
Your organisation may want to review their positon on the following policies and procedures;
- SICKNESS ABSENCE POLICY – For some low paid workers not coming to work is similarly not an option due to personal financial pressures , with some businesses not providing sick pay benefits and SSP not covering household expenses for many people.
- BUSINESS TRAVEL POLICY – do you have a clear position on non-essential travel
- BUSINESS CONTINUITY PLAN – do you have one and how does it plan for the impact of staff absence and service disruption? Do employees need additional support or equipment e.g.
– IT for remote working, Skype facilities?
– Do you need to provide any specialist equipment.
– Your positon on time off for child-care, self-isolation, protection for vulnerable workers and clients.
– Procedures for deep cleaning work areas, communal areas or hot desks.
– Supply Chain Management, does the ordering system and timescales need to account for the fact that some supplies and items may be in short supply due to high demand?