A recent survey from WorkLife by OpenMoney found that one in five (21%) employers are concerned about how they will help staff to manage the long-term mental health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
From March 14 to 22 2021, WorkLife by OpenMoney surveyed 750 senior financial and HR decision-makers at UK-based, small- to medium-sized enterprises with between five and 250 employees.
A fifth of the executives surveyed revealed that they were troubled by the issue of how to keep remote working staff engaged, while a slightly higher proportion (26%) were worried about the impacts of the pandemic on their employees’ mental wellbeing.
Among the other key points that arose, some 21% of the survey’s respondents were worried about how they would help their staff to manage the pandemic’s longer-term impact on their personal finances, while a quarter of those polled were anxious about having to make staff redundant.
Despite the concerns about employee welfare revealed by the survey, WorkLife by OpenMoney director Steve Bee maintains that SMEs should continue to give all the support possible to their staff – knowing full well that those staff will play a crucial role in helping their businesses bounce back to where they were pre-COVID.
“It isn’t things like one-off bonuses that are going to make the real difference here, which is why firms should be looking further afield at smaller, more meaningful ways they can give workers a helping hand over the coming months,” Steve reflects.
“For example, offering access to financial advice can help with managing stress and other mental health concerns. Meanwhile, perks like retail discounts could offer a vital lifeline to some people – particularly among those who may have been furloughed or had hours cut during lockdown.”
Steve also highlights the importance, for small businesses, of ensuring that employees can get the support they need – wherever this support may be found. After all, the majority of the UK workforce is employed by a small business, and these companies will necessarily have limited in-house support for mental health and wellbeing issues.
Given this, Steve stresses, it is essential that those small firms are aware of the different resources that they can use to help their employees through this time. “For many people, the workplace is the only place they are going to be able to access the support that they need,” he underlines.
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