With many companies returning to business as usual over the coming weeks, I wonder what steps businesses have taken to make it a smooth and healthy transition for their employees.

I’m sure that there will be many hand sanitisers dotted around workplaces and social distancing strategies implemented, as an integral part of an infection control policy adopted by many companies. Perhaps there will even be personal water glasses and coffee mugs too to help lessen the spread of any germs.

But what about some tools to build resilience and to better cope with stress? Or resources to manage the possible mental health problems that COVID-19 may have given rise to or exacerbated?

Employees of the larger corporate companies may benefit from having an Employee Helpline or a dedicated Well-being staff member to help them address their concerns, but what about those companies with a smaller employee health budget? What can they do? Here’s my top 10 suggestions:

  • Encourage staff to download an app for meditation or deep breathing exercises; there’s plenty of free ones such as “Insight Timer” or alternatively low-cost ones are available.
  • Organise a series of talks and/or cooking classes on “You are what you eat”, to promote better health and mindset through diet. Research has shown that diet may lessen the impact of cold and flu viruses, especially as we head into Winter in Australia. Plus, diet may influence how employees respond to stress and cope with challenges, both in the workplace and personal. That’s an area that I can definitely help with.
  • Arrange a weekly on-site yoga class. The International Yoga Teachers Association may list a practitioner near you. https://iyta.com.au/yoga-teacher
  • Provide details of organisations that offer help and support for mental health issues such as Beyond Blue or Headspace.
  • Perhaps negotiate a special rate with a local counsellor that staff can access; check out the Australian Counsellor’s Association, https://www.theaca.net.au/find-registered-counsellor.php
  • Have a mini library of self-help books or healthy cook-books; encourage staff to bring in books that have helped them, to share with their colleagues.
  • Compile an online directory of articles that promote stress management in the workplace, anxiety strategies and general wellness.
  • Designate, if possible, a quiet area for self-reflection, reading or meditation to give employees time and space to recharge their batteries and switch off from their work.
  • Consider running a Mental Health First Aid course in your workplace or nominating a few members of staff to attend. You might find some helpful information at https://mhfa.com.au/
  • Make mental health and general well-being more of a priority in the workplace by encouraging staff to talk with their managers about their health concerns, without fear of judgement or ridicule.

Interesting times lie ahead for all of us as we resume “business as usual” and with a focus on staff well-being, the transition will hopefully be a smooth and profitable one for all.