The NHS Confederation[i] has warned that mental health problems are growing at an ‘alarming’ rate in England, with 1 in 6 adults having experienced some form of depression in summer 2021, exacerbated by the pandemic.
Mark Fosh, Divisional Director at Howden said, “The festive season is meant to be a wonderful time of year; however, it can bring a lot of extra stress and worry. Many employees are balancing work pressures with family duties and add to this financial worries and fears about the new Omicron variant.
This year, offering support to people over the holidays season is so important and could make a big difference to employee wellbeing and ensure your people return to work in 2022 refreshed, motivated and ready to hit the ground running.”
Here are Howden’s top tips to support employee wellbeing this festive season:
Encourage employees to ‘switch off’ – An ‘always on’ culture has been exacerbated by the pandemic as the boundaries between home and work have blurred. Encouraging employees to switch off and take a break has never been more important. Spending time with family and friends and catching up on sleep are key ingredients for good wellbeing.
Be aware of ‘Divorce Day’ -The first working Monday after the festive break has been named ‘Divorce Day’ due to family lawyers reporting higher than usual enquiries on this day. While relationship issues are personal, the impact of a divorce can be difficult for employees to manage, with prolonged periods of stress leading to depression and anxiety. Being mindful of this, employers can remind employees of support services that could help people going through relationship troubles including a divorce, such as Mental Health First Aiders and the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) which offers mental health, financial planning and legal support.
Festive money worries – The average UK family will spend an average £821.25[ii] in the run up to the festive season. Money worries can cause anxiety, stress and depression. Promoting support services such as EAPs, Citizens Advice, Step Change and the National Debt Line could help employees. Also, businesses could consider running a financial wellbeing programme in 2022, to give employees the tools and know-how to make informed financial decisions.
Support employees’ mental health – Be mindful of employees who might not be coping well over the festive period. Look out for uncharacteristic behaviour such as missing deadlines, someone acting more quietly or aggressively or frequently turning up late. Ensure help and support are in place as this will help to reduce absences. Benefits such as EAPs. Virtual GPs and Mental Health First aiders can be used as a first line of defence. Also, promote mental health support available through charities such as Mind, the Samaritans and Victim Support.
Signpost employees to their employee benefits – Often employees don’t know what benefits are available, so why not send out a reminder over the festive period? Use end of year communications to provide a useful summary of the benefits and support on offer and importantly, how employees can access them when they need them.
Encourage health activities – A combination of lack of exercise and overdoing the festive treats can have a detrimental impact on physical wellbeing. Encourage employees to stay active over the festive break, for example by going out for daily walks. This can also help them cope with any extra pressure over the festive period.
In the New Year why not set up a workplace health challenge such as walking, running or cycling? This can be a great way to get teams involved in some friendly and healthy competition, encourage better health habits and boost employees’ wellbeing.
Finally, a simple thank you can go a long way – When employees are snowed under and pressure is high, it can be easy to forget the importance of saying thank you. A small but important gesture that lets people know their efforts are noticed and appreciated can really boost morale and motivation.
To find out more about looking after employees’ mental health and wellbeing or request an employee benefits review, to make sure they are still fit for purpose for 2022, get in touch with Howden.
For more information, please visit www.howdengroup.co.uk