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Tips for medium to large organisations during COVID-19

COVID-19 has changed how we live and work. Here are some tips for medium and large organisations about how to create a mentally healthy workplace during COVID-19.

Part of the Creating mentally healthy workplaces during COVID-19 module.

Key principles for creating a mentally healthy workplace during COVID-19 

These principles complement activities to protect physical safety in your workplace during COVID-19. Every organisation is different, so it is important to work with workers, managers, executives, health and safety representatives and others to turn the following principles into action.

Tips for supporting your people during COVID-19 

Your workers  

You can support your workers by checking in regularly, giving people opportunities for input and feedback, informing workers about their entitlements and considering flexible work arrangements.  

Your managers and leaders  

One of the best ways to improve workplace mental health is to invest in building the capability of managers and leaders. Managers with good people skills, who understand mental health and can manage work well are key.    

Supporting people experiencing mental ill-health

People may react to the pressures of COVID-19 very differently. Some signs to look for include changes in attitudes to work, difficulties concentrating, becoming easily frustrated, making simple mistakes, missing deadlines and changes in interactions with others. Trust your gut – if you feel there is a change, reach out and see how they are going.

Tips for creating a mentally healthy workplace during COVID-19 

Coordinate your approach across your organisation   

Coordinated strategic action across health and safety, human resources, operations and communications teams, directed by strong leadership, is more efficient and effective than disconnected and reactive solutions. For example, key messages or tips could be added to email signatures of people involved in driving the action.

Commit to continual improvement  

Targeting action areas using the Plan–Do–Check–Act approach to continual improvement can help make change achievable and long lasting. You can identify areas for action via consultation, audit tools or reviews of existing data.

Consult workers and be transparent about change  

The current uncertainty is difficult for many people, particularly if it affects careers and livelihoods. Legally, organisations must consult workers (and their representatives) about changes that may affect their health and safety. However, consultation and transparency is also important for helping people navigate change.  See Safe Work Australia for information on consultation requirements and strategies.

Keep communication clear, consistent, considerate and timely  

Good communication is a two-way process, with management and workers listening to each other. Provide regular information about changes to daily operations or conditions, management expectations and protection measures in place. You may have to tailor messages for some work areas or locations.   

Align your approach with your inclusion and diversity strategy  

Consider how you will identify and support workers who are more vulnerable to the physical and mental impacts of COVID-19. This may include young workers, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, culturally and linguistically diverse communities, the LGBTIQ+ community, or people experiencing mental ill-health, living with disability, managing caring responsibility or experiencing family violence.  

Invest in trusting and protective relationships and cultures  

COVID-19 has changed many work relationships, both positively and negatively. Reaching out regularly helps teams stay connected, signals your support and makes it easier for teams to re-engage.  

Know where to get support  

Workplaces can reinforce health information from reliable sources to counteract misinformation or conflicting advice. Trusted sources include the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care, SafeWork Australia, the Fair Work Ombudsman, the Australian Taxation Office, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Business Council of Australia.  

Expect some ups and downs  

Understanding that fluctuations in mental health and wellbeing are normal and listening to your people can help your organisation prepare for the journey ahead.  

Design for the future  

Now is an opportunity to consider new ways of working and re-imagine how and where work is done.  

Be a role model by looking after yourself  

Managers set the tone of the organisation. Demonstrating positive ways of caring for your own mental and physical health models positive behaviours for others. Caring for yourself can include setting healthy boundaries and saying ‘no’ to requests or demands when required.   

For more ideas and supports, read the Mentally Healthy Workplaces during COVID-19 guide or visit the Urgent help page for free, confidential mental health supports.  

Resources

Guidance
National Mental Health Commission
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