Looking after our employee’s mental health in a new uncertain world
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought employee health to the fore, in a way that hasn’t been seen before. It’s pleasing to see how corporate Australia has prioritised the health and wellbeing of its employees during this unprecedented time. Now, there is a unique opportunity to continue this focus and progress the employee health agenda.
Research released by Relationships Australia has shed light on the impact the pandemic has had on employees across Australia including impacts to mental health due to the changing nature of work, the working environment and people’s workload.
87% of respondents reported a significant change to their workplace since the crisis began, while 63% agreed these changes have had an impact on their mental health.
Medibank has been working with its corporate partners to provide a range of virtual health and wellbeing initiatives from nutritional seminars and Fitbit challenges to mental health apps (Uprise) and mental health training for leaders.
Last week, Medibank hosted a virtual event, as part of its Thought Leadership series. Hundreds of representatives from corporate Australia dialled into the event to hear from Dr Michael Mosley about the importance of getting a good night’s sleep.
A lack of sleep substantially reduces workplace productivity through absenteeism and presenteeism – twice as much as obesity and mental health. In fact, a 2017 report by the Sleep Health Foundation reveals that productivity losses for each employee with inadequate sleep amounted to $2,418 per person.
Here are some of the tip’s Dr Mosley shared for getting a good night’s sleep:
Find a healthy transition to end your work day at home such as going for a walk.
Set a cut off time from your work and responding to emails each night – and stick to it!
Drink plenty of water and make healthier food choices throughout the day.
Create a support network with your family and colleagues and encourage each other to get moving throughout the day.
Moving forward, as we transition back into a “new normal” there will be some new challenges to face and potentially a larger change adjustment for our employees returning to offices.
What will working in an office look like with social distancing measures in place? How will my commute be different? How will we deal with the challenge of health anxiety as we come out of our homes and engage in the community, public transport, offices etc? How long will this uncertainty last?
All of this suggests that we will need to have an even greater focus on employee mental health across change management. These might range from programs to support the mental health of employees to ensuring leaders are equipped to notice any changes in behaviour that may indicate a deterioration in the mental wellbeing of an employee and ways to connect with and support them.
At Medibank we’ve also seen some unexpected benefits from the new way of working. We’re more caring towards our colleagues and have become more adaptable and collaborative in how we work.
On a personal level, I’ve noticed the benefits of staying at home. I don’t have a long commute into work, so I use that time to exercise and reflect. It’s also freed up more time for connecting with my family, cooking and those jobs around the house that have been waiting a few months!
We have a long road ahead and there is much more to do to support the health of our employees through this time. Medibank is here to support and partner with corporate Australia to support the health and wellbeing of your employees.
In the coming months we’ll be bringing some great thought leaders to virtual seminars to provide you with insights and reference points about how we can best get through this together.