How to support your employees during COVID-19

For most businesses, the people are the most valuable asset. As a manager or owner of a business, you should be striving to do what is best for your people as, ultimately, it is what is best for the business. In addition to this, you have a duty of care for your staff. Under the Australian Work Health and Safety Act 2011, your obligations to your members of staff extend to both physical and mental health in the workplace. Prior to COVID-19, such issues that you would address would be providing an ergonomic desk and chair or the correct tools to get the project done safely. You may have even run First Aid Courses and Manual Handling Training.

However, considering the current climate, businesses have had to learn to adapt to the ‘new normal’. Working from home has brought on new challenges, such as the threat of loneliness due to social isolation and a general disruption to daily routines. These can wreak havoc on an individual’s mental wellbeing and leave them feeling frustrated, anxious and scared.

Here, we provide some suggestions on how to encourage a positive mental health mindset, to help you support your employees as we progress through the recovery phase of COVID-19.

Lead change

COVID-19 has had a significant impact on our lives and has changed the way we work, study and socialise. During these times of uncertainty, your people need to know that you have their back and you will support their mental health in any way you can.

Just as you would manage your own wellbeing, so too should you be guiding your staff to take care of their own mental and physical health. Just some ideas that you could initiate include:

  • Encouraging physical exercise and a regular sleep regime
  • Remaining positive in any communications
  • Sharing positive news daily
  • Being available at all times to talk to your team members
  • Initiate regular conversations with your people just to catch up
  • Invite team members to participate in free online mental health skill training.

Check in on your team

During this time, people may be seeking new ways to cope with the changing circumstances around them. Just some of these ways could be turning to illegal substances, gambling, and/or alcohol. These behaviours can negatively impact the body and mind. By talking to your team regularly and encouraging banter between team members, you may be able to minimise the chance of people making these choices or identifying if they have.

If a worker is displaying signs of negative mental health, reach out to them and help them by giving them the support they need.

Hold regular virtual meetings in real time

Communicating with your team about the direction of your business during these difficult times is essential. More than ever, it’s important to be transparent. No doubt your team members may be feeling anxious about wondering whether they will still have a job the following week. Give more information that you may otherwise provide. Have honest discussions about business and what you are doing to support them.

In your regular team meetings, you could:

  • Advise of any government entitlements, such as the JobKeeper Initiative by the Australian Government
  • Discuss how your business is addressing COVID-19 with new measures put into place
  • Divide team members into pods where they can check-in daily to discuss how they are feeling.

The idea is to remind them they are not alone and that you are still a team, no matter what.

Additional resources to help your team

At Bentleys, we understand the feelings of concern and anxiety that you may have at this time, especially if you are responsible for a team of staff members. If you would like to speak to a professional about any concerns you may have regarding the health and wellbeing of a member of your staff, there are good quality support services available to you, some of which include:

In Australia:

  • Lifeline 13 11 14
  • Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636
  • Gambling Helpline 1800 858 858
  • Alcohol Drug Helpline 1300 858 584

In New Zealand:

  • Lifeline 0800 543 354
  • Depression Helpline 0800 111 757
  • Care New Zealand, alcohol and drug helpline 0800 787 797
We, at Bentleys, are doing everything we can to help businesses come out of this challenging time in good shape.
We will continue to update our COVID-19 resource hub with important developments, so please return soon.

Disclaimer: This information is general in nature and should not be relied on as advice. It does not take into account the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular person. You need to consider your financial situation and needs and seek professional advice before making any decisions based on this information.

COVID-19: A summary of Australia's tax measures

The governments of Australian states and territories have also released independent stimulus packages. For an overview of all Australian measures, click here.

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