The impact of COVID-19 on the mental health and wellbeing of employees has been profound. In particular, women continue to experience disproportionate disadvantage throughout the pandemic due to the increased amount of pressure they often experience whilst working from home.
Here are two ways in which employers can support the mental health of female employees; not only during the pandemic but into the future:
1 Establish workplace norms
The pandemic has made it increasingly difficult for employees to separate work from home life, and consequently many have reported to feel like they are always ‘switched on’. This situation is particularly apparent for working mothers with children at home, who have indicated in surveys that returning to the workplace will likely negatively impact their mental health.
Going forward, it is vital that employers continually prioritise the establishment of work-life boundaries and communicate openly about which workplace flexibilities will continue to be available beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite the availability of flexible workplace arrangements, it is important to acknowledge that some female employees remain concerned that there is a stigma attached to actually using them. To address this issue, senior figures within companies must communicate openly about their commitment to the mental health of employees and reinforce these messages with meaningful actions. For example, by modelling boundary-setting and self-care themselves, leaders can send a message to employees that it’s acceptable to prioritise wellbeing and utilise the support available.
2 Communication is key
Many employees are not aware of the mental health resources available to them, often due to a general lack of communication on the subject. It is therefore vital that leaders utilise their influential platforms to get the word out regarding the resources that are being offered; helping to ensure that employees can take the first step to accessing support services. As many female employees might perceive seeking help as something seen to be weak or unprofessional, messaging from female leaders who can share their own personal experiences is vital to breaking down such barriers.
Here at Open Door, we work hard to support women through the challenges constantly being presented by the COVID-19 pandemic and appreciate the importance of creating a supportive work environment which enables women to thrive.
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