Supporting mental health when returning to the workplace

New shape of work podcast is a series that addresses the challenges and uncertainty brought by the coronavirus and how to transition to a more agile workforce for the future.

In our first podcast, we are bringing you a conversation between Kate Bravery, Global advisory solutions & insights leader, and Norman Dreger, Partner and multinational client group leader, covering:

  • How looking at the coronavirus into three phases – respond, return, and reinvent – helps plan for the unique challenges that businesses must address in each phase.
  • The role empathy and clear communication plays in maintaining a focused and engaged workforce through this crisis.
  • The opportunity to re-evaluate how we operate to incorporate the successful ways work shifted, and continues to shift, in response to COVID-19.

Interesting moments from the podcast:

  • “Mental health and well-being support is a key principle of a good return to work. We need to get used to not just returning, but creating a good return to work. It's also key for employers to ensure that workers know how and with whom to raise their concerns because they will be anxious. People had anxiety issues or depression at the best of times, but they get exacerbated during such a crisis.”
  • “For too long, working practices have evolved with little or no thought being given to the underlying people objectives such as facilitating teamwork, or reducing mental health issues. We have put people’s working environments into the cloud so teams can work remotely, technically that's working, and people can work remotely…But we have not given enough consideration to knowledge sharing, teamwork, and social interaction and the other human elements that are really important to unlock human potential and transformation.”
  • “We have to be quite careful here that while, we are praising the advantages of flexible working for work life balance, which is true for a huge number of employees, we also have to be careful now not to go to the other extreme. To say for instance, everyone should be home-based or office space should only be for meetings and collaboration and make it all sound very modern and about fun. Because there are some of our colleagues, again on the mental health spectrum, like people with neuro diversity or autistic conditions, that need a predictable space and a controllable environment.”
  • "In the UK we investigated the productivity question as part of our Britain's Healthiest Workplace survey that we deliver together with Vitality Health. We were looking at organizations that prioritize employee health and well-being vis-à-vis the average organization. Those who come out tops, in terms of employee health and well-being, save nearly 11 days of productivity per employee. So that's 11 days for every single employee per annum in comparison to those who just have average programs.”