Businesses have many complex challenges that they need to overcome, from financial difficulties to supply chain issues and recruitment. But while there’s no way of knowing what the future holds, being prepared when it comes to employee welfare can make all the difference.
In the past, many managers would have expected personal problems to be left at home, but it’s a counter-productive attitude that more and more business leaders are waking up to. In order to foster an open, productive and happier workforce, employees need to feel supported in all aspects of their lives. The fact remains that in order to keep your staff safe and happy, you need to be able to support them in overcoming welfare challenges that could arise unexpectedly.
The threat that ill health poses when it comes to job security can make many people fearful of telling their boss or manager that they’re struggling. From physical issues and chronic conditions to mental health concerns, there are many challenges that employees can face which affect their ability to work. But as with any condition, employees who have help in receiving treatment have a far better chance of recovering than those who don’t.
There’s a lot of stigma around mental health in society, and it is a serious problem that more businesses need to prioritise. Managers need to feel that they can confidently speak with employees if they spot worrying signs or have staff come to them with a concern. Part of the way they achieve that is creating a culture of open communication. Employee Assistance Programmes are also beneficial to offer counselling and support services to employees in need.
Similarly, if an employee is dealing with a chronic condition, find ways you can support them. Maybe you can invest in office equipment to make their working day more comfortable, or move their schedule around so they can take breaks more regularly throughout the day and work flexibly to accommodate their condition. Having someone take a few days off to recoup and recover is preferable to them trying to work through their difficulties and worsening their symptoms.
Accidents can happen in any workplace, no matter how careful you and your staff are. But knowing how to respond to those accidents is essential to supporting your staff if they suffer an injury. As an employer, you’re responsible for workplace safety and staff wellbeing whilst they’re at work. Quite naturally it’s also important to support them if they suffer an injury outside of work too.
Employers should provide an opportunity for staff to talk following the injury, should they wish to, as well as be vigilant of any after effects and symptoms of PTSD, offering time off if they need it. But remember that the responsibility doesn’t end there. Employees are well within their rights to make a personal injury claim against their employer, and in accordance with employee law, businesses are not allowed to dismiss them for doing so. With this in mind, one of the best ways a business can help staff overcome the challenges they face as a result of a workplace accident is to support them in any injury claims they make. Have a system in place for reporting the incident and making a note of any details pertaining to the accident, inform other staff of what happened so they can be vigilant in the future, and learn from the experience to further develop risk assessments.
Finances are one of the biggest causes of stress for people, especially with today’s economic climate. As an employer, you play a key role in peoples’ monetary circumstances, so your primary role needs to be one of support. Understandably, given the taboo around talking about money, employees may feel shame and embarrassment at struggling to pay their bills or coping with debt, and that can worsen their stress and anxiety even further.
In addition to paying fair living wages, employers can help their staff by providing money management resources, debt charities or credit brokers, as well as financial aid services to help them overcome financial struggles and money-related perks. Depending on the type of business you operate, overtime may be an option to help staff boost their income, or there may be ways for them to sell some of their annual leave. Ongoing financial education can also help staff to tackle their money worries and avoid future problems.
The death of a friend or family member can affect each of us in different ways, but there’s a high chance that if an employee has had to deal with a bereavement, they will be stressed, upset and struggling with productivity at work. They may need counselling or time off work to grieve properly. It’s vital, however, that they have time to come to terms with their loss rather than suppress their emotions.
Some people may return to work to give their mind something to focus on or because they benefit from a regular routine. But whenever they do return to work, make sure that they have the support they need. If your business offers a wellbeing programme with counselling services, these can be offered to bereaved staff, or you may have third party resources you can direct them to. Offering flexible working to help them accommodate arranging funeral services or similar tasks can also help staff feel supported during what is a difficult and stressful time.
It’s an unfortunate fact that many relationships end, for a variety of reasons, but it goes without saying that it’s an incredibly stressful time for those involved. Your employee could be facing losing their partner but also potentially having to deal with altered childcare arrangements if they have children. Separation of assets and finding somewhere new to live will also add new pressures and often increased financial burden. Being sympathetic to the situation is vital, but employers can also offer support in other ways while staff go through this challenging period.
Once again, a well being programme can facilitate important support services, if they’re struggling emotionally, and being understanding to the fact that their work performance may be temporarily affected, can make a great difference to the way they move through their change of circumstances. Having a process in place to deal with these personal difficulties can help employers treat each employee fairly, should they find themselves in the same situation. This may be such as facilitating an extended leave of absence if the employee requests it, or offering flexible working while they handle their divorce.
Recognising potential problems before they become serious issues can help businesses put protective measures and systems in place early on to support staff with any welfare challenges they may face. Not only is this better for the staff but it also helps your organisation react to unforeseen circumstances with greater ease.