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Reflections on supporting our staff’s wellbeing during the pandemic

It’s never been more important for employers to prioritise the wellbeing of their staff. During the pandemic many of us have had to cope with large and sudden changes in the way we work, which may have affected our wellbeing.

We talked to our Organisational Development Officer at Mind to find out about her role and her advice for staff working in workplace wellbeing. Katy Ridsdill‐Smith is responsible for coordinating wellbeing initiatives for our staff and making sure they feeling supported with their mental health.

Katy Ridsdill‐Smith, Organisational Development Officer at Mind

1. What are some of the things Mind was doing before coronavirus to look after the wellbeing of their staff? 

Mind has a number of tools in place to support staff wellbeing and mental health. Alongside our Employee Assistance Programme, we offer reflective practice sessions where staff can explore issues inside and outside of work with a counsellor. We also have a range of physical activities at discounted rates (now all virtual of course!) and financial health checks with advisors to support the physical and financial wellbeing of our employees.


2. What additional measures has Mind put in place during the pandemic to look after staff wellbeing?

Our first step was to streamline all wellbeing information into an easily accessible place that is updated on a regular basis. This signposted to all wellbeing support on offer at Mind, including the additional reflective practice sessions introduced, as well as advice for supporting wellbeing throughout the pandemic and information for managers, and parents and carers.

Recognising the pivotal role that managers play in supporting the wellbeing of their teams, we ran a webinar series called ’Supporting teams through change’. This included advice to managers on managing in a remote environment, wellbeing and procedural changes as a result of the pandemic. We also held optional webinars for furloughed staff to provide a space for them to connect with colleagues and stay in touch with our work as a charity.

To help reduce social isolation, we’ve recently been matching colleagues with others at random for a virtual coffee and catch up. Sometimes it’s nice to take time out of your day for a breather and it replicates the sort of chats we’d have in the office.


3. How do you think the pandemic has affected staff wellbeing at Mind, and what are some of the most common issues people want to raise right now?

IIt’s hard to say exactly as the pandemic has affected everyone in such different ways. However, what we’re hearing most frequently at the moment is that remaining engaged and motivated is becoming increasingly difficult when working from home. People are really missing day-to-day interactions with colleagues in the office and are finding hours in front of the computer a real challenge.

On the other hand, we’re certainly hearing that remote working is giving people more control over how they structure their days and work in a way that suits them.


4. What one piece of advice would you give to employers about looking after staff wellbeing during this time?

Make sure you are regularly listening to the changing needs of staff. We know that the pandemic is affecting us all in very different ways and that wellbeing needs are changing more rapidly than before.

It’s therefore really important to provide forums for staff to share challenges so that you can understand where additional support is needed. You can provide opportunities for staff to input, and help demonstrate your commitment to supporting wellbeing at an organisational level, by using anonymous surveys or drop-in sessions.


5. What do you do to look after your own mental health at work?

It’s so easy for the boundary between work and home life to become blurred when working from home. So I make sure I go for a walk when I finish work to have that sense of ‘leaving the office’ at the end of the day. That really helps me to distinguish between work/life and get into the right headspace for each. 
I also use the time I would have spent commuting to do yoga every morning ‐ I’d highly recommend Sarah Beth’s yoga channel on YouTube!

Where to find more support

We have a range of information and advice to help you manage your mental health at work and support others’ on our coronavirus and workplace hub. We will also be sharing new resources and blogs as we reach one year since the first lockdown.

You can also find more resources on the Mental Health at Work website.

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