The past year has been like no other. Staying at home and following lockdown restrictions for almost 12 months has started to take its toll on our mental well-being. In fact, a mental health crisis was predicted in the autumn, ahead of the latest restrictions.
Now, more than ever, it’s important to look after ourselves, especially as many of us trying to balance the working day with parenting and home schooling.
Businesses have realised that they need to help where they can, with a focus on employee wellbeing becoming a major theme for 2021. Here’s a look at how this is likely to play out in the coming year.
Mental health takes priority
According to the Coronavirus Mental Health in the Pandemic study, which is an ongoing look at the impact of the virus on our mental wellbeing, different sectors of the population are feeling the effects. In the run-up to Christmas 2020, over half (54%) of the adult UK population felt anxious or worried because of the pandemic.
With so many people being affected by current events, it stands to reason that employers are responding by introducing practical approaches to mental wellbeing for workers at this time. Companies such as ALA Insurance have added online meditation workshops led by experts in the field, while others have focused on nutrition. Counseling is also being made widely available for staff, in many cases for the first time.
Mental health is likely to remain at the forefront of business owners’ minds for years to come. Building in wellbeing tactics is important as there is a link between our mental health and how we manage our workload. Therefore, it’s in business owners’ best interests to look after the mental wellbeing of their team.
Health and safety is key
The global pandemic has placed our physical health at the top of the agenda. While practical steps were taken in 2020 to ensure the health and safety of staff, from getting employees to work from home to introducing self-isolation systems for teams, this is likely to evolve in 2021.
Customer-facing businesses have already implemented intense safety measures in the last year in order to keep staff and clients from harm. However, when restrictions lift and offices slowly begin to reopen, deep cleaning will become more important than it ever was before. Professionals might have added responsibilities that involve keeping their desks clean, while in-depth training is likely to be necessary to ensure workstations are sanitized.
How to plan for the coming year
While employers can take steps to look after their staff, employees can also adapt to working in the current climate. Some ways to do this include:
- Create a to-do list – write this the day before (or the Friday before if you’re coming up to the weekend) so that you come into work with a clear set of tasks for the day.
- Allow time for admin – the small admin tasks that you’ve been meaning to get around to can easily build up. This can lead to stress as deadlines for these niggling things approach. Book in some time to get the things you need to complete done.
- Take a break – while it can be tempting to sit at your desk all day, especially while working from home, try to get away from your workload for five minutes every hour or so. This will help clear your mind and approach tasks in a fresh way when you return.
- Speak to someone – if you’re feeling low or you feel like things are spiraling out of control, speak to someone at work who you trust. They might be able to help or point you in the right direction.
2021 is set to be another year of change for many businesses and employees. We will all have to work smart in this new normal.