11 Jan 2021

How technology can help employers manage the mental health of their workforce in the UK’s third lockdown




As the UK goes into a third lockdown, Adrian Lewis from Activ Absence is urging employers to ensure they have strategies in place for looking after the mental health of their workforce, after the charity Mind warned this week that mental health is ‘worsening across the spectrum’ Mind surveyed 6,000 Brits during lockdown last year and found that half of adults felt their wellbeing had worsened during 2020, with many experiencing mental health problems for the first time.

Those aged 18-44 were most affected. New figures from the Office of National Statistics have also revealed that almost 85% of adults who reported experiencing some form of depression said their wellbeing was being affected by feeling stressed or anxious because of the pandemic. Adrian Lewis says, “The ongoing Covid-19 crisis and the latest lockdown may exacerbate the mental issues that many working age people are feeling. Once again, the country is told to stay at home, with schools closed and many people having to juggle working from home with educating their children.

“This combined with financial worries and fears around job security are all likely to be taking their toll on workers across the board. Employers have a duty of care to have systems and strategies in place to monitor mental health and be able to offer support should they find that people are struggling. This is in the best interest of their workers as well as their business.”

A report by Benenden Health at the end of last year found that as many as 42% of UK businesses have seen employees leave due to a lack of emotional support, with 25% saying they had lost a valuable member of staff. Also, 55% of workers (around 17 million UK employees) said they would seek a new job if their mental wellbeing was not being supported by their employer, and 57% said a supportive mental wellbeing policy would increase the likelihood of them joining a new company. Adrian adds, “It’s clear that looking after employee’s mental wellbeing is even more crucial this year as we move through the pandemic.

Businesses not only need to support their workers now but also for the future. They will want to ensure staff stay in the organisation to aid recovery and also that they are an employer of choice when they recruit.

“Companies need to better monitor and better support peoples’ mental wellbeing, especially at a time when many are working at home. They can do this by investing in cloud-based absence management technology. Often the first sign of someone suffering from poor mental health is having more time off sick. Patterns of absence such as regularly being off on a Monday or taking more time off than usual could indicate a problem.

“This technology enables managers to track absence, spot trends and ensure return to work interviews are carried out, even if these have to be done remotely. By speaking with people the system flags up, managers can get to the root causes of why they are taking time off. “By offering employees the opportunity to confide in their manager about any issues they are having enables managers to offer help or sign post them to specialist support services. Without this insight managers can be completely in the dark as to what is happening with their workers, especially when they can’t physically see them.

“Monitoring absence, along with scheduling in regular catch ups with employees and encouraging them to take time away from their desks when they are working from home, are all measures employers can take to ensure their workforce is mentally well during the difficult months ahead.” For more information on absence management software visit www.activabsence.co.uk