Lockdown and WFH: Protecting employee mental health

When the rollercoaster of the COVID-19 pandemic means your staff are required to return to WFH (working from home) without much prior warning, this can trigger a range of emotions. Please check in on the wellbeing of your team members during these times.

Read Tools for workplace wellness >

Employers have a duty to protect the health and safety of their employees, so it is important to note that remote and isolated work is recognised by SafeWork Australia as a mental health hazard in the workplace. People working remotely may not have easy access to resources, communication or support.

The risk to mental health is made worse when:

  • No policies and procedures are in place for working alone, remotely or in isolation

  • Employees lack the appropriate equipment or technology for communication (important for safety and social connection)

  • The workplace doesn’t offer flexibility

  • The workplace doesn’t offer an employee assistance program or wellness support program

  • There is a community crisis such as a bushfire or pandemic, which may cause grief, fear, fatigue, heavier workloads, financial distress, and/ or extra pressures at home

Management Tips

  • Review your organisational policies and processes for work health and safety, and mental health

  • Ensure you are providing flexible and healthy workloads, allowing for rest and recovery

  • Keep staff informed on significant workplace changes or issues, including what this means for them and their jobs

  • Regularly check on each employee’s wellbeing through good communication— be accessible and demonstrate that it’s OK to talk about mental health

  • Look out for behavioural changes and learn how to respond to an employee who is struggling

  • Provide support resources, such as an Employee Assistance Program

Read Coping at home: Remote workplace wellbeing tips >

If staff are working remotely due to a crisis such as COVID-19, they may feel increased isolation and uncertainty. Supervisors will need to be more empathetic and flexible regarding what staff are dealing with at home, and more available for regular check-ins to help keep staff on track and ensure they are coping.

For more information, please contact us today.