When the mental health charity MIND analysed calls to its helpline recently, it found that more people had experienced a mental health crisis since the start of the pandemic than it had ever recorded before.
It’s hardly surprising. What we’re living through as a nation is still hugely challenging - whether we’re worried about keeping ourselves and our loved ones healthy and safe, our job security or the economic impact of the pandemic in general.
And, for many UK employees, all this is set against a backdrop of needing to continue to work from home for the foreseeable future.
Months on since the first lockdown started in March 2020, and still with pre-pandemic normality not here just yet (although the news about vaccines is clearly cause for hope), are enough organisations still giving staff mental health and wellbeing the attention they deserve?
One factor that seems to be impacting on employee wellbeing in the new remote workplace is something called e-presenteeism.
Before 2020, many of us had heard about ‘presenteeism’ - when employees felt pressure to stay at work for longer in the evenings, keep working when they didn’t feel well, or respond to messages in the evening when they were at home.
Now, this has translated over to the remote workplace, too - and the fact many employees feel insecurity about keeping their jobs in a difficult economic climate feeds into it.
The Mental Health Foundation surveyed UK employees recently and found that those working from home now put in up to 28 hours of overtime a month on average.
Clearly, some of these extra hours might be down to the fact that they needn’t commute to their workplace any more. But the pressure to be ‘always-on’ happens during the day, too. A quarter of respondents feel they should be quicker in responding to messages and requests than they would do in a physical workplace.
It’s inevitable that working fully remotely blurs the boundaries between work and home life - and this can have a negative impact on wellbeing. So is it time to ask whether e-presenteeism is happening in your remote workforce, and what the effects on your staff might be?
Making sure that employee mental health and wellbeing is firmly on your radar isn’t just the ethical thing to do. It also makes sense from a business perspective - apparently employers who focus on wellbeing at work see productivity rise up to 12%.
At HR GO, we’re certain it can also help boost your employer brand. Conversations with candidates we recruit for their next roles have shown that many appreciate employers who look out for their mental health and wellbeing.
So keep talking to everyone on your team about how they’re feeling - and consider whether it’s time to revisit the steps your organisation is taking to support the health and wellbeing of your workforce. This is especially crucial months into this pandemic when people’s wellbeing may be challenged more than ever.
If your team knows that they’re not only valued for their work - but their wellbeing counts, too - your business stands a stronger chance of making it through tough times.
Find more on how organisations can help support staff mental health and wellbeing here.