Intelligent CXO Issue 07 | Page 38

impact on the health and well-being of business owners , those breaking the difficult news , the recipients and those left behind . While these calls reduced to pre-pandemic levels with the introduction of furlough , the ending of furlough will inevitably lead to more of these types of calls .
Significant changes to ways of working , with a sudden and dramatic shift to homeworking for many has caused employers and employees to rethink how people can work effectively and to re-evaluate the psychological contract – the human side of a contract which contains the unwritten values and expectations between an employer and employee .
The pandemic ’ s silver lining
It is clear though that the pandemic has created unexpected benefits ; we are having more open conversations about mental health . Many of us have become more versed in the language of coping strategies and have increased our awareness of what helps us keep healthy . Line managers have got to know their staff better as they have become more aware of individual circumstances .
At Acas , often organisations go to them when things have gone ‘ wrong ’. In relation to mental health , this might be a high mental ill heath absence rate which an employer wishes to reduce , or a desire to increase awareness following a staff suicide ; it might present as a claim for unfair dismissal or discrimination on an employee ’ s side . However , more and more we are seeing organisations wanting to focus on a proactive rather than reactive response .
The Acas response
From an employer ’ s side , leading and embedding a well-being strategy is crucial to taking a proactive approach . In our experience , for many employers , the intention is there , but the ‘ how ’ is what organisations need support with . A simple but evidence-based framework , such as the mental health at work commitment , is a helpful starting point . A mental health champion in the leadership team and / or a mental health steering group for larger organisations can help ensure the plan stays on track .
Legally speaking , organisations have a duty of care to protect their employee ’ s health and safety , and this includes mental health and wellbeing . Under the Equality Act 2010 , employers should also put in place reasonable adjustments for staff with a disability . Putting legality aside , taking time to understand the individual needs of staff and balancing these with the needs of the organisation is the right thing to do and will pay off . Staff who feel valued , listened to and supported will have better well-being and consequently will perform better .
With new ways of working , there comes a unique opportunity to create jobs that are good for wellbeing , where staff have more autonomy over how and where they do work .
For many , hybrid-working offers the opportunity for more adult-adult relationships , based on trust and contributions rather than time spent in the office . An employer that offers flexibility and well-being support will no doubt be attractive to future job seekers as well as a key factor in the retention of existing staff .
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