However, by harnessing the power of technology to offer and communicate accessible mental health services, you can make a difference to how well your workforce copes this Christmas.
The dark days of winter
Winter is a gruelling time of year for a lot of people. 2014 research from the Weather Channel/YouGov suggests close to a third of Britons suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), also known as the winter blues.
And for many people, the festive season is the hardest time. Figures from mental health charity Mind’s Christmas survey (2016) indicate that one in 10 people feel unable to cope at Christmas – and that is in a ‘normal’ year.
This year, with COVID-19 related stress and restrictions thrown into the mix, the number of people needing help is expected to soar to record levels.
So, whether your employees are key workers, on furlough or working from home, mental health support is likely to prove one of the most essential elements of your employee benefits programme over the next few months.
Helping employees beat the winter blues
There’s no doubt that technology, from video calling to streaming services, has been a lifeline for many during the COVID-19 pandemic so far. It’s also a key part of any 2021-ready employee benefits programme.
Employees’ experiences of COVID-19 vary widely; while some are struggling with isolation, for others bereavement or financial pressures are the main concern.
So, to offer the support they need, you must provide a range of tailored resources that employees can access easily from home, then get the message out to make sure they know what help is available.
An employee assistance programme represents one of the best ways to do this, especially when combined with specialist services and an effective communications strategy that takes into account people’s preferred channels – and the way in which these may have changed if they are working remotely.
Asim Amin, founder and CEO at mental health platform Healingclouds, said: “It’s important to have mechanisms in place to counter mental health issues anytime, anywhere – particularly at the moment."
Three easy ways to support employee mental health this Christmas
1. Advocate a positive work/life balance
Encourage staff to finish work on time and to take at least a 30-minute lunch break, during which they get some fresh air where possible.
2. Use technology to stay connected
Collaborative platforms such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom and Skype can help to keep you connected to your colleagues. You could even use them to host a virtual Christmas party or awards ceremony.
3. Promote the support tools available
Whatever wellbeing support your organisation has available, ensure it is well promoted – and accessible in the current circumstances.
*This article was written for, and features in REBA, November 2020.