Do you check-in with your employees on their mental health?

Experts warn of ‘criminal’ lack of communication with staff over their wellbeing, and urge businesses to encourage openness and train line managers appropriately.

A quarter of employees have had no wellbeing check-ins since the start of the pandemic, a survey has revealed, leading to calls from experts for employers to “catch up” to the mental health crisis.

In the poll of 2,000 workers by Mental Health First Aid (MHFA), 25 per cent said their workplace had not checked in on their mental health since the crisis hit a year ago. Similarly, nearly a third (29 per cent) have never had a conversation with their line manager about their mental health.

Only a third (32 per cent) of employees said mental health and wellbeing support improved over the pandemic, compared to 43 per cent of respondents who said their support stayed the same or worsened. Two-fifths (41 per cent) said they had less frequent wellbeing check-ins or none at all.

The survey’s findings reflected the continued impact coronavirus was having on the nation’s mental health. Isolation, anxiety, loss and trauma are affecting millions of people as a result of Covid-19, and is likely to affect every workplace in the UK.

Mental health problems cost businesses £35bn in the UK before Covid-19. It’s likely that will grow this year as a result of what many of us have experienced over the last 12 months.

Employers could take simple steps to reduce the impact on their workforce’s mental health. Employers can give their teams more control over how they work, and be more flexible with their policies on compassionate leave or caring responsibilities.

A culture of being open about mental health at every level, encouraging people to seek help when they need it and training managers can all make people feel more confident and connected.

The survey also found that women’s mental health had suffered more than men’s. More than two-thirds of women reported decreased confidence at work because of the pandemic, compared to less than a third of men (68 per cent and 31 per cent respectively). Women were also much more likely than men to report feeling lonely or isolated during the crisis (64 per cent and 36 per cent respectively).

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