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Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, employers across the UK and Ireland have been confronted with the dilemma of arranging for their team members to work from home. Among the many considerations that organisations will have to make, it is likely that employers will have to consider the needs of parents among their workforce.
Under normal circumstances, being a parent is a challenging experience. Balancing the commitments of family and work-life can be a continuous struggle for many employees, especially for those who have caring responsibilities as well.
Combine those challenges with the adjustments of suddenly becoming a remote worker and managing family life simultaneously, the risk of mental health issues growing amongst your team members increases.
To help you support the parental mental health of your team members during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have listed a few suggestions to ensure that they feel supported during these challenging times.
Flexible working - Empowering your people to work in a flexible manner can do wonders for your teams’ morale and mental health. Flexible working enables parents to fit work around their childcare responsibilities, such as arranging home schooling and medical appointments etc.
Review - Do your existing workplace policies support parents enough? Review your policies and adjust where you feel appropriate. Consider the areas that would most benefit the parents in your workforce e.g. maternity/paternity pay, paid sick leave, mental health days etc.
Educate - Help protect your team members by promoting cleaning and hygiene best practices in the workplace. Set up sanitising stations and ensure communal areas are regularly monitored and cleaned. For remote workers, share important messages on prevention measures, travel guidance and protecting their family members from COVID-19.
Communicate - Ensure that any changes to your working environment or internal processes are communicated to all your team members—on-site and remote workers—with sufficient notice.
Promote support - If any of your team members are showing signs that they are struggling to cope with balancing the pressures of work and family life, make sure that they are aware of Health Assured’s 24/7, 365 confidential helpline. Our trained and qualified counsellors are available to provide practical and compassionate emotional support.
Essentially, it’s vital that employers do their best to promote a company culture that enables team members to speak out when they feel that they are struggling with their mental health. The parents and guardians within your organisation should feel comfortable when using your new policies without fear of discrimination or stigma.
By focusing attention on family-friendly workplace policies, employers can play a significant role in supporting the health and wellbeing of working parents, which will result in loyal, focused, and productive team members.
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