Duty of Care
Every employer has a responsibility to ensure their employees’ safety and wellbeing, also known as their duty of care. This means doing everything reasonably possible to protect them and following health and safety and employment laws.
There are many ways for you to demonstrate your duty of care. Providing a safe working environment and tools to do the job, training your staff and giving them time off from work to rest. Making sure employees have a platform to talk with their managers is also important.
It is possible to breach your duty of care if you did not do everything reasonably possible to keep your employee safe. Employees are also responsible for their own health and wellbeing, for example, they are allowed to refuse to do work that is unsafe without fear of disciplinary action.
Wellness Action Plans (WAPs)
Wellness Action Plans are a simple and effective way of supporting your employees’ mental wellbeing at work. It allows them to consider how they currently feel at work and create practical steps to help them cope better. It can be used at any time, not just when they are already struggling. It’s good for everyone to have one, so steps are in place if/when they start to struggle.
Find more information about WAPs, including templates and guides for managers, here.
Flexible Working Policies
The traditional working pattern has changed a lot this year. There is a need, more than ever, for employees to have access to flexible working patterns. If you don’t already have flexible working policies in place, this is something to consider implementing.
Employees have the right to ask for a flexible working request if they have worked for you for at least 26 weeks and they have not submitted another flexible working request in the last 12 months. All eligible requests must be considered and a decision must be made within 12 weeks.
Find more information about Flexible Working on the ACAS website here.
Managing People Remotely
Many of us have been working from home for a while now. A line manager’s job looks different for lots of people and some may find it difficult without the ‘real life’ interactions we’ve been so used to.
Setting clear expectations with your team will make it easier for everyone to be on the same page with the goals you are working towards. Focusing on these rather than daily activity will give your team a sense of autonomy and empowerment in their work.
Make sure you are regularly checking in with your team. This will give everyone an opportunity to talk about how they’re feeling about work and more generally. This also helps to build trust with your team.
Providing reliable tools and technology will make life a lot easier for your team, and creating an inclusive online community using programmes like Microsoft Teams will help everyone feel closer.
You might want to consider a communication strategy – how online meetings work, how often you have them, what channels of communication you’re using. All of these points will help to build a closer team, even when you are physically far apart.
CIPD have also created a list of top 10 tips for managing a remote team, which you may find useful.
Spotting mental health challenges in your team and how to address them
More people are working from home, and meeting with your team virtually can make it more difficult to spot when someone in your team is struggling.
Having regular check ins with your staff via video call (or in person if Government guidelines allow) is a good way to get a feel for how they’re doing. Some things to watch out for are changes in their mood, or how they interact with their colleagues.
Their work output and motivation may have dropped, or they might be struggling to make decisions. They might appear quite disorganised, or tired and anxious.
There are lots of ways to help someone who is struggling. The mental health charity, Mind, have created a guide on how to help colleagues who are experiencing a mental health problem.
You might want to use a wellbeing calendar with your team as an educational tool, or something to bond over by having themed working days or conversations based on a given day’s theme, e.g. International Dog Day.
The NHS have a good example of a wellbeing calendar here.
Further Links & Resources
How To Stay Calm in a Global PandemicDownload
SAMH – Scottish Association for Mental Health: Wellbeing Assessment. This is a great tool for your team to use to understand their own wellbeing better.
Mind – Taking Care of Your Staff. This page contains helpful links for managers to use when considering how to look after your team’s wellbeing.
#NeverMoreNeeded – UK wide campaign to remind funders, the government, and the public just how important the voluntary sector is. Using the hashtag in your social media posts and exploring what else has been posted is a fun way to expand your network and see what other organisations have been doing in 2020.
CIPD – People Managers’ Guide to Mental Health – The Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development created a guide in 2018 for People Managers, all about the mental health and wellbeing of staff members