As we approach the next stage of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s ‘roadmap’ out of lockdown, more and more employees are returning to the office, and for some this could be anxiety-inducing.
While many of us are only too glad to be reunited with colleagues and get back to face-to-face collaboration, for others the prospect of venturing back to near-normal office life is really quite daunting. Even with ever-decreasing COVID-19 infection levels, there will be those who remain anxious about the possible risks, others will be concerned about coping with the social element of the workplace, having worked from home, potentially in isolation, for so very long.
A study published in February by the Mental Health Foundation found that anxiety caused by the pandemic has declined but that high levels of anxiety still exist among vulnerable groups, and it is these people who will require the most support as they return to the office.
Mental Health Awareness Week really could not have come at a better time in this respect, an opportunity to raise awareness of mental health, with a view to ending the stigma attached to it.
Supporting staff as they return to the office should be seen as an opportunity for businesses to engage in meaningful conversations with employees about their wellbeing and to develop a positive wellbeing culture for the future. Mental health issues are proven to have negative cultural and performance outcomes for businesses, so putting mental health on the agenda and normalising conversations around it should be viewed as a business imperative.
According to a 2020 study by Deloitte, poor mental health costs UK employers up to £45 billion per year but for every £1 spent by employers on mental health interventions, they get back £5 in reduced absence, presenteeism and staff turnover.
Now is the ideal time for employers to take a holistic view on how staff mental health issues impact their business and recognise that investment in supporting the mental health of staff is indeed an investment in the business itself.
At BE Offices, not only did we invest in an Employee Assistance Programme back in 2019 but we are proud to have three fully trained, MHFA certified, mental health champions on the team to support staff not only as they transition back to office life, but to help address any other issues staff may be facing now and in to the future.