01 Jul 2020

Employers urged to monitor absence closely to stay on top of rising mental health issues post Covid-19




The British Medical Association (BMA) has warned this week that the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic could lead to a mental health crisis in the UK unless extra support is provided.

Other research from Bupa UK[i]  found that despite high rates of poor mental health during the pandemic, just one in 20 people (5%) has spoken to a health professional about their symptoms. Rather than confide in others about their mental health, many people have felt under pressure to ‘grin and bear it’ (43%).

Adrian Lewis, Director at Activ Absence says employers need to be aware of potential mental health issues as the UK gets back to work and ensure they have measures in place to help employees who may be suffering.

Adrian says, “The Coronavirus has had a dramatic impact on the mental health of many people. Not only have people been worried about catching the virus, but with lockdown and many workers furloughed they have financial worries and fears around their job security.

“Mental health is something that has been moving up the corporate agenda, but the pandemic has demonstrated employers need to take it even more seriously. The effects on people’s mental wellbeing may only become apparent in the coming months, so employers should ensure they have strategies to support their workforce should they need it.”

Recently the Samaritans charity reported that its volunteers have received more than 7,000 calls, emails and letters a day during lockdown – with a third relating to coronavirus[ii].

The Bupa UK study also showed that 65% of people are anxious about returning to the office, and one in four expect their mental wellbeing to worsen as normal life resumes.

Adrian adds, “One strategy that employers could adopt to tackle mental health is to invest in absence management software. Often the first sign of someone suffering from poor mental health is having more time off sick. Such technology can track patterns of absence such as regularly being off on a Monday, which could indicate someone is struggling.

“Absence management software not only helps managers track absence so they have a record of who is off and can see any trends, but it prompts them to return to work interviews. These interviews can help managers uncover the root causes of why someone has been off and can provide an ideal opportunity for employees to confide in their manager. Managers can then step in to offer help or sign post them to specialist support services.

“Many businesses have struggled during the lockdown and need to get back to near normal productivity to help recoup lost revenue. Monitoring absence is just one way for employers to ensure their workforce is mentally well, offer support if needed, and ensure its business as usual.”

For more information on absence management software visit www.activabsence.co.uk

[i] https://www.thehrdirector.com/business-news/health-and-wellbeing/number-of-brits-bottling-up-mental-health-issues-doubles-vs-2019/

[ii] https://www.stokesentinel.co.uk/news/stoke-on-trent-news/coronavirus-huge-impact-mental-health-4291711