Last reviewed 1 April 2020

A new report has urged employers to step up their mental health support for staff during the pandemic.

The Health and Well-being Survey at Work 2020 report has been published by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and the insurers Simplyhealth.

Based on a survey of 1018 people professionals representing 4.5 million employees, the report warns that only 31% of managers are thought to have the confidence to have sensitive discussions around mental health and signpost staff to expert sources of help.

The report also urges employers to act now to help prevent their employees from being at serious risk of mental ill health during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fear of infection and feeling isolated, along with concerns about job or income loss are just some of the knock-on effects from the pandemic that are all likely to increase the pressure and stress people are under.

In response, the report recommends employers do the following during and after the crisis.

  • Support and guide their managers so that they feel equipped to have sensitive and supportive discussions with staff.

  • Remind managers about the importance of communicating regularly with their team and asking how they are.

  • Encourage staff to practise self-care such as a healthy routine for diet, sleep and relaxation.

  • Promote their existing health and wellbeing benefits and support, for example signposting people to their counselling helpline.

Commenting on the research, Rachel Suff, Wellbeing Advisor at the CIPD, said, “The COVID-19 pandemic is putting a huge strain on employers and individuals — and it’s completely understandable that for some, this situation is proving challenging for their mental health.

“With many workers now working from home, it can be even harder for managers to pick up on cues that their colleagues might be struggling. It’s really important that managers are regularly checking in with their team and making use of video calls, so interactions can be as personal as possible.

“Employers also need to remember that their duty of care for people’s health and safety carries on no matter where staff are based.”