The survey suggested that nearly a quarter of employees working from home felt stressed, anxious or had experienced an issue with their mental health due to their current working situation. Half of people surveyed admitted to feeling isolated by working from home and nearly 3/4s felt that missing out on day-to-day social interactions with co-workers was detrimental to their mental health. The new guidance “offers practical advice on how workers, managers, and bosses can support their colleagues during this difficult time”, according to the ACAS Chief Executive.
Th guidance suggests practical steps that can be taken by employees to improve their own mental wellbeing and that of their co-workers. The steps include staying in contact, talking to colleagues about how lockdown is impacting their mental health and having a routine, planned in advance, that sets out the days’ tasks. The guidance also advises that, where employees are working from home, it could be beneficial to engage in online coffee breaks or other social activates.
Employers have a duty of care towards their employees, and should, where reasonable and practical, support, implement and maintain procedures that will contribute to the positive mental health of their workforce. ACAS suggests that having a mental health “Champion” (someone who leads on changing attitudes or stigma attached to mental health) or a mental health support network should be actively considered by employers.
Employers’ commitment to mental health awareness is being increasingly scrutinised. Its effect on the workforce can lead to issues with staff retention, productivity and future hires. Implementing the ACAS guidance is likely to increase employee engagement and the positives that accompany it.