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Randstad Says Employers Need To Continue Prioritising Employees Wellbeing To Support Mental Health

With Mental Health Awareness week kicking off on 21 September, and the economic impact of the pandemic ongoing, HR and Recruitment expert Randstad believes it’s a timely reminder of the importance for employers to maintain regular workplace wellbeing check-ins.

During the first COVID-19 lockdown, employers upped their game to protect their employees’ wellbeing as they worked remotely. Randstad research, The Impact of COVID-19 on Workers and Organisations revealed 52% of workers felt their employers took care of their emotional wellbeing during the pandemic which was positive to see. However, that left a significant number of employees (48%) who did not feel their emotional wellbeing needs were met within the workplace.

Randstad NZ Country Director, Katherine Swan comments, “Employers should not overlook the importance of investing in their employees’ emotional wellbeing. During these uncertain times, it has become more critical for organisations to step up and look after their people. Companies can do more to support their teams, and organisations should consider training and support for managers, so they are better equipped to support their staff.”

Randstad’s research found in the first lockdown 39% of employees were able to make more time for themselves because of working remotely, but 25% of employees were overloaded with work and ended up working longer hours.

“We actively encourage our managers to be mindful of the workload they put on their teams. It is important that people have time for breaks, so they do not feel overworked. Instead of holding employees accountable to certain work hours, managers should consider task-based monitoring. This allows employees to have a bit more control over their time, which will allow them to retain a healthy work-life balance,” Ms Swan says.

Randstad Employer Brand Research (REBR) found a disconnect between employers and employees when it came to elements of the workplace that could impact an employee’s mental health.

“When it comes to work-life balance and the benefits of a good work environment, employers and employees prioritise these differently. Our REBR survey showed work-life balance was the second highest aspect employees consider when choosing a job, followed by the work environment, ranked third. However, those factors did not sit as high for employers, as they are ranked seventh and eighth respectively,” Ms Swan says.

During the pandemic, Randstad customer Chorus realised mental health would be a concern for its employees, so it proactively looked for ways to support them. The company partnered with Sir John Kirwan’s Mentemia programme, and through this platform, Chorus CEO JB Rousselot and Sir John would regularly speak to the organisation, Chorus People and Culture General Manager Shaun Philp says.

Chorus also introduced special leave for its employees during lockdown, so they did not have to feel extra pressure if they burnt through their annual leave or sick days.

“With 850 people working from home, and the vast majority with some sort of responsibility associated with caregiving or home-schooling, we gave staff an additional 10 days of special leave. This allowed them to balance work and family responsibilities without feeling disadvantaged,” Mr Philp says.

During the lockdown, many organisations lifted their game and showed how they are able to support their staff during uncertain times. Randstad hopes organisations will continue these efforts and look for new ways to support their team’s mental health.

“Organisations across New Zealand have shown how they can step up and support their employees during trying times, and now that many employees have returned to the office it doesn’t mean employers can overlook those services. We are still going through uncertain times, and we know employees are worried about job security and economic news is creating anxiety. Employers need to continue to be mindful of this, communicate with their teams to minimise any uncertainty, and find ways to look after their employee’s mental health,” Ms Swan concludes.

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