Return to office will affect staff wellbeing, say managers

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Almost two-thirds (62%) of managers believe the return to the office has or will have an impact on employee wellbeing, highlighting the need for organisations to prioritise support as the UK emerges from its third lockdown.

A survey of more than 1,200 managers by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) found that more than half (56%) felt the overall mental health of their employees had worsened because of the pandemic.

Managers themselves were also feeling the strain, and 44% agreed that their mental health had suffered.

The issue is, however, high on the business agenda, and 83% of managers agreed their organisation prioritised the mental health of their staff.

Despite this, 22% of managers were apprehensive about using corporate employee assistance programmes.

Ann Francke, CMI chief executive, said: “It’s not surprising that so many people feel that the pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns have had an adverse effect on their mental health and wellbeing. What is worrying is that employees are hesitant about using their companies’ employee assistance programmes.

“As leaders of any organisation, we have a duty of care to ensure that the mental health and wellbeing of our staff is prioritised and that effective support is offered where needed. This means equipping our managers with the skills and knowledge of how to spot any signs of people struggling with mental health issues.

“Giving them the support to understand how and when to intervene or signpost in an appropriate and timely manner. We must also ensure that we’re keeping an eye on our managers too, those who may be prioritising everyone else’s needs above their own.”

Dr Lynne Green, consultant clinical psychologist and chief clinical officer at online mental health support provider Kooth, said: “Returning to the workplace is likely to be anxiety-provoking for many people and we should all be alert for any changes in ‘usual presentation’ which may suggest increasing stress levels or deteriorating mental health of our colleagues.

CMI is offering its members access to the Kooth digital mental health platform. Kooth said Covid-19 had triggered a 73% increase in the usage of its mental health service by adults.

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