At Fnality, we fully recognise that employees are our most important assets and good mental health is an important asset in its own right. We were fortunate to have an Agile work practice which allowed the company to respond effectively to the shock of the lockdown restrictions that were introduced at the beginning of the pandemic. Fnality did not view the transition to remote working as a challenge, but instead an opportunity to evolve the company into a more cohesive and outcomes-focused workplace. From the outset, there was a strong emphasis placed on the mental health and wellbeing of our employee’s during the transition period.
The good news is that employees’ mental health does not have to suffer when you work remotely, especially if your organisation and colleagues propose preventative actions. Talking about mental health in the workplace is just as important as identifying the physical health risks through a health and safety assessment. This blog outlines some of the mental health and wellbeing measures that have been introduced by Fnality, which we hope will give readers and other companies in the financial sector some helpful tips as a second wave of Covid-19 appears inevitable.1. Home Office Set-Up
The average employee will spend a third of their day working, so Fnality recognised that it would be a high priority to ensure that all employees had the same office facilities in their home environments as they would in the office. A generous self-spend budget of £250 was provided to every employee to purchase office tables, ergonomic chairs, monitors, Wi-Fi-extenders, headphones, lighting, whiteboards, and much more. According to a report, employees with a functional office environment were 35% happier. It might seem like a no-brainer, but by ensuring employees are happier and equipped to carry out their roles effectively, there is less likelihood of employees feeling frustrated, anxious, or stressed due to their new working arrangements.2. Avoiding Meeting Mania
Over the past few months, there has been a drastic rise in the number of conference calls which can, at times, block out an entire day, leaving employees with very little time to get much work done. This results in feelings of failure as deadlines loom, and overwhelming burnout as employees consider working longer than expected hours to make sure deliverables are reached. A Harvard Business Review article dealt with the topic of “How to Combat Zoom Fatigue”, but at Fnality we went one step further and took proactive action to reduce meeting mania and the mental health implications which follow.
It is surprising how many meetings lack a clearly defined outcome. We have requested that all employees specify a purpose, outcome, structure, and time (POST)in all calendar invites. Employees should feel empowered to decline meetings which don’t follow this structure or there is limited value in attending. Employees need to set boundaries on their busy schedules and workload. For companies which use Outlook, many at Fnality have begun using MyAnalytics Focus and find it extremely useful as it automatically schedules 2 hours each day to focus on deliverables. It’s completely free and definitely worth a trial!
3. Staying Connected
If you ask anyone what they miss the most about working from the office, they would probably mention the social interactions with their colleagues (the banter isn’t the same over Slack!). Remote working can make employees feel isolated which can result in feelings of depression, anxiety and insomnia. However, working from home does not mean you are alone, especially where companies and employees take simple proactive steps to create a more inclusive working environment.
Fnality CEO, Rhomaios Ram, led by example scheduling 30-minute catchups with every employee over a period of a month. If a member of the senior management team can find time to speak with every employee, why can’t you over the coming months? One or two catchups a week has been proven to alleviate feelings of loneliness and isolation. We need to maintain pre-pandemic routines as much as possible, otherwise, the days tend to merge together and become mundane cyclical loops.4. Get Up, Get Active!
There is no denying the positive benefits of exercise on mental health. Exercise releases endorphins which reduce anxiety, depression, negative moods and improve self-esteem and cognitive function. When the gyms were closed across the UK during lockdown, our fitness fanatics at Fnality took the initiative of setting up morning fitness sessions and yoga via Zoom.
Prior to lockdown, a number of employees dedicated a lunchtime each week to go for a walk. It’s great to see this walking group still takes place and has grown in membership with employees encouraged to participate and take pictures of their routes around the City. It is important to continue such routines and encourage others in the company to get some fresh air, after all, it is free!
5. Wellbeing Days
Reports have shown that even for the most disciplined employees, who usually separate work from their personal life, there has been a rise in the number of hours spent working late and at the weekends which can result in employee burnout. In 2019, the World Health Organisation recognised burnout as a legitimate medical diagnosis. More than ever, companies are under pressure to ensure deliverables are achieved, and employees feel they must react to this “call to arms”. Fnality appreciates the hard work of employees but would never request employees work excessive hours. We understand that burnout leads to ineffectiveness, stress and negative perspectives of the business. An initiative was proposed to offer each employee one Wellbeing Day each quarter to take at their own discretion. This could be taken without prior notice or approval from a line manager, allowing employees who are feeling overwhelmed with workloads to take the time they need to unwind. In addition, Fnality employees have been trained to identify the signs associated with burnout and other mental health concerns.
If you want to learn more about mental health and wellbeing visit www.mind.org.uk. If you would like to speak to someone in confidence contact the Samaritans on 116 123 or via email at: email@example.com