The third Monday in January is often referred to as Blue Monday – apparently the most depressing day of the year. While the day may not be backed by any scientific evidence, the current lockdown restrictions and cold, dark mornings have more than likely left many of us feeling more down than usual.

With more people experiencing one or more symptoms of poor mental health over the past months, it is more important than ever to make sure we are checking in with each other and ensuring employee mental health is a top priority.

Here are a few top tips on how to support your team and business, not just today, but all year round.

You need to take the lead

Having a manager with a positive attitude will go a long way in establishing a positive team. Your team will look to you for guidance and reassurance, so you need to be able to practice what you preach.

But don’t forget to look after yourself. Maintaining a healthy balanced diet, getting the right amount of sleep and being active will all help towards good mental wellbeing.

Many of us are still working from home so it’s crucial to emphasise the importance of making a clear distinction between work and home life in order to avoid burning out. Encouraging staff to take the time every day to do something just for them is extremely important for wellbeing.

Flexibility is key

Everyone in your team will be experiencing their own set of challenges – long-term health issues or disability, homeschooling, working from home, financial pressures, providing care for vulnerable family, poor internet connection. Any one of these things could have a potential impact in terms of mental health and productivity.

Make sure you have invited your employees to share any accommodations they would like in order to perform at their best eg to manage personal circumstances or home responsibilities. This will allow you to see the big picture and make reasonable adjustments to ensure they are able to work effectively and efficiently. This will make a big difference to their wellbeing and productivity.

Allowing staggered starts to accommodate homeschooling, adding additional breaks, flexible working hours and more 1-2-1 support are all things that can be considered as part of a growing ethos of ‘tight loose tight’ management. Tight on objectives, loose on how, when, where this is achieved, tight on quality, timing etc. of outcomes.

Stay connected

Isolation and loneliness can affect anyone, whether you live alone or in a busy family environment and can have a negative impact on mental health. It is important to stay connected and support your team in any way you can.

Regular team meetings and wellbeing check-in calls can help start the week/day off in a positive way. You can share updates and feelings. As a manager, you will need to be open and honest with yourself and your team will follow your lead. If you have team members who give signals in what they say or in their body language that all is not well, maybe take some 1-2-1 time to pick it up with them and see if you can do anything to help.

You can also add some additional social events into the calendar – virtual coffee breaks, online morning exercise, quiz nights – there are loads of creative ideas out there that you can share virtually with your team. You can get team members to lead in their areas of interest. A healthy lunch or snacks cooking demo even. Invite suggestions from your team and get them in the diary.

Look after vulnerable employees

Keeping in touch with employees who may be hard hit by COVID-19 is extremely important, as this could be a stressful time for them and their family.

Make yourself aware of their individual circumstances and how this may affect their mental health and wellbeing and maintain regular contact to avoid them feeling isolated. This will hopefully allow them to share any problems with you should they arise.

Offer further support for your team

If your team require more support than you can offer at this time, remind them of what is available both within the business and externally.

Alongside work-based support such as Employee Assistance Programmes (EAP) or occupational health, there are also organisations such as Samaritans, Mind and Rethink Mental Illness who are all there to help those who are struggling mentally.

Here at Tudor Rose, we can also help you support your team with workplace wellbeing and your employees balance any mental health with operational needs. Also thinking around the future shape of flexible working as things get back to a new normal, especially for those with long-term health conditions or disabilities. Take a look at our services and workplace wellbeing workshop.

We may not be able to control the pandemic, but one thing you can control as a manager is looking after the wellbeing of your team. Now more than ever, maintaining a positive example for your staff will help us all, and your business, get through this.