Avoid the mental health impact of COVID-19 by speaking to staff now, warns talent firm

A mental health pandemic could follow COVID-19, are employers ready to step in?

COVID-19 could be followed by a second pandemic, namely a mental health pandemic if employers don’t start talking to staff about mental health, warns a talent advisory firm.

While the pandemic may be easing with the rise of vaccine rollouts, the mental health impact of the lockdown period on staff wellbeing cannot be ignored. Global talent outsourcing and advisory firm AMS has urged employers to take the time to engage with their workforce on mental health.

With many employees having worked remotely for over a year and a number of workplaces considering remote and hybrid working styles going forward, employers must take account of the long-term impact of working through COVID-19, such as “digital exhaustion, a lack of boundaries between work and home life and a reduction in engagement and wellbeing that is being masked by increased productivity.”

Not only will ignoring these issues lead to deteriorating workplace mental health, but the talent firm warns organisations will also “experience a long-lasting, detrimental impact on growth prospects” unless they engage with staff mental health now.

Here’s their advice for employers to make a start on improving workplace mental health:

  • Make time to talk and be open to having difficult conversations and make sure staff feel listened to
  • Highlight senior role models who are happy to talk about mental health openly and in a relatable manner
  • Give staff the ability to become mental health ambassadors to help others at work
  • Train management to be able to have mental health conversations with colleagues
  • Adapt mental health approaches to suit the region and culture you’re operating in

Ruth Smyth, Managing Director, People and Culture at AMS, said: “Our employees’ mental health has never faced such pressure and strain as it has in the last year.

“While there have been some really encouraging and inspirational moves from employers to support the mental wellbeing of their staff during the pandemic, we’re now facing longer-term stresses that businesses need to prepare for – in particular, the effects of long-COVID and a possible mental health pandemic that could impact our people for a number of years unless we prepare and take action quickly.

“While every business will have its own talent engagement and mental health wellbeing programme in place, impactful, courageous, and difficult conversations need to be embraced if we’re to support our talent in the new world of work. Making time to talk now could safeguard the wellbeing of our people in the future.”


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