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How can I help my Practice Staff deal with Covid anxiety?

On Monday, the country began on the road out of lockdown - restrictions are certainly not fully lifted and life is still not like it used to be, but it does have the feeling that we are getting closer to “normality”.

With this newfound freedom, however, there are many people who are going to feel anxious about more people being together and the still-present risks that come with larger numbers of people, especially those who have been shielding or are clinically vulnerable.

So what can you do as a Practice to support your employees that might be feeling a little anxious?

Creating a Culture…

HR throw the word “culture” around quite a lot, but what does it actually look like?

The idea is for a practice environment to be open and supportive, so that employees feel they can approach their managers confidently, knowing they won’t be judged or treated poorly if they are honest about how they are feeling. The right “culture” results in employees feeling valued, protected and engaged which leads to low turnover and high productivity.

The best way to start moving towards building the right culture is to:

  • start having open and honest conversations with employees
  • talk about mental health in the employees 121s to open the door to the conversation
  • ensure that the practice has a policy stating that mental health will be treated in the same way as physical health
  • lead by example- show that you prioritise and look after your own mental health and take it seriously when employees come to you for support.

It’s also good to encourage open conversations and ensure support is available for your staff. Try to ensure that talking about mental health is positively promoted within the practice and that all employees are aware of the options available to them should they feel they are struggling, such as relevant helplines, relevant adjustments available, and open and honest discussions with line management.

If you Know that an Employee is Feeling Anxious…

If an employee has approached you stating they are worried or anxious, or you feel you need to speak to an employee as they seem to be struggling, the best thing to do is find somewhere private and have a conversation. Not all employees will be open to talking about their mental health, but that’s ok. Don’t force the issue, but let the employee know you are there should they need to talk.

If the employee seems open and happy to talk,  ask them if there is anything the Practice can do to help, such as alter their break times so that they’re not taken when others may be in the staff room, are there some of their daily tasks that could be swapped with other employees that don’t share the same concerns. Sometimes they may just need to take a few minutes away from the front desk, or away from a PC to catch their breath and calm their thoughts.

 

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Getting back to Normal will take time…

It is ok to be a little worried at the moment and we should be supportive of those employees that we know are a little more worried than the rest. Things will get back to normal, but no one knows how long that is likely to take.

In one of our previous blogs we spoke about the benefits of rest and 7/11 breathing, a proven technique to help someone quickly calm down in times when they may be feeling a high state of anxiety. 7/11 breathing is an exercise that can be practiced as little or as often as necessary.

What we do know, is that nothing matters more to employees than how they are treated during difficult times, and being supportive will help to ensure a happy and engaged workforce.

Keep an eye on the FPM Blog for forthcoming articles on the benefits of mindfulness. Plus, FPM members can access the Mindfulness Toolkit and the Mental Health in the Workplace Toolkit, both relating to workplace stress in the Policies and Procedures Library


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