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How companies are supporting employees during COVID-19

Posted by: Emma Upton

The Coronavirus pandemic has had a profound impact on mental health. As with the virus itself, this is a global health crisis that has swamped local health systems. Here in the UK, employees switched to working from home, altering work environments in unimaginable ways. People have been balancing work and struggling with uncertainty, isolation, childcare responsibilities or even grief.

“We are facing one of the toughest ever times for our mental wellbeing. It is absolutely vital that people pull together and do all they can to look after themselves and their loved ones,” said Mind Chief Exec, Paul Farmer. “We are all going to need extra help to deal with the consequences of this unprecedented set of circumstances.”

With Paul Farmer’s words in mind, the global pandemic has placed workplace wellbeing higher on the agenda for companies around the world and, in response companies, are creating wellness programs and a host of initiatives to support employees amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Resources and well-being programs

Worley Parsons are a global provider of professional project and asset services in the energy, chemicals, and resource sectors. They introduced a new wellbeing program called ‘Life Matters’. This program focuses on mental, physical and social well-being. The ‘Life Matters’ program includes their Employee Assistance Program (EAP), a network of mental health champions, training materials and online resources, which support a safe and respectful workplace.

Worley have provided further support and information for their staff who have tested positive for COVID-19. This included ensuring they had access to medical providers, mental well-being support, and maintaining engagement throughout their recovery period.

In a previous blog, we spoke to two WRS candidates who have found work with Worley and relocated to Europe. Both of them spoke about the fantastic support that Worley gave them and the way that the company have been able to continue operations with increased health and safety regulations that ensure employees feel protected and safe, thus reassuring them and easing any concerns that may affect their wellbeing.

Elsewhere, KAZ Minerals, a global mining company and the largest copper producers in Kazakhstan, have started a new initiative to improve overall employee wellbeing. They include in this mental wellbeing, particularly for staff based in remote sites such as Aktogay and Bozshakol. The programme is preventative in nature but also includes services to treat mental health disorders if they occur, and there is now a clinical psychologist available with dedicated facilities at these locations.

We don’t need to look far to see an employer concerned with employee wellbeing, especially during the recent Covid-19 challenges. WRS, through our dedicated HR team, introduced a range of programs and initiatives to support the workforce.

“One of the biggest challenges for us as a business was to switch from office-based working to remote working,” Emma Upton, HR Business Partner at WRS, tell us. “We invested in the technology to allow us to transition smoothly, but it was important that we also supported our employees from a wellbeing and community point of view. For many of our workers who were isolated in their homes, communication with work colleagues was the only regular contact they had. The company became their support network, a beacon of stability, in very uncertain times.”

To encourage collaboration between employees and ensure we checked in with our staff in more informal ways, we hosted weekly virtual coffee club mornings, where employees could log on for a friendly chat. We also ran Thursday night pub quizzes and set up a virtual run club. This accumulated in us raising £360 for a community charity called Forever Manchester after collectively running 200 miles over the month of July. Finally, we set up e-learning courses and guides to working from home to help employees adapt.

It’s vital employers step up to support their employees during this health and economic crisis. We’re proud to work with so many great companies who have invested in the wellbeing of their staff and come up with new, innovative ways to connect.

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