How to support employee wellbeing during COVID-19

Blogs 1 Jun 2020

As we slowly start return to work, looking after the wellbeing and safety of your employees will be essential. Learn how you can best support your team.


Supporting the mental health and wellbeing of your employees has always been important, but as we face unprecedented times, it should be one of your main priorities as businesses slowly begin to reopen.

Employee wellbeing involves how people feel about work and their working environment, as well as the quality and safety of their physical environment. Your employees are one of your most valuable assets, so you should be accommodating and understanding during these times.

Here are some steps you can take to prepare your business and take care of your employees.

Communicate with your employees

Simply talking to your employees about what they need and what might help will go a long way in supporting their return to work. Everyone is different, so talk to each of your team with sensitivity and compassion.

Signpost to resources

Extended lockdown and isolation is having a huge impact on our mental health. As employees start to return to the workplace, make sure they’re aware of resources and places they can go to for confidential support.

  • Mind offers practical advice for looking after your wellbeing
  • NHS England provides guidance for looking after mental health and wellbeing
  • For urgent help, you can call Samaritans on 116 123.
  • For support with any concerns, you can text SHOUT to 85258.
  • Time to Change can help you support someone with a mental health problem during this time
  • FSB collaborated with Mental Health at Work to create a dedicated toolkit to support for small businesses
  • Visit the FSB Wellbeing Hub for further resources and guidance

Ensuring your employees know where to go for help can help with their transition back into work.

Be flexible

Employees can really appreciate the opportunity to manage their own workload and work flexibly. Perhaps there may be choices over when and where employees work, or opportunities to effectively manage a work-life balance. This can really help to reduce pressures on employees so that they are more energised and motivated when working, especially as everyone will be dealing with different circumstances, such as childcare arrangements or looking after vulnerable family members.

If recent circumstances have meant an employee’s mental health has been adversely affected, be flexible with your requirements and ensure they get the right support.

Be understanding

Sadly, your employees may be dealing with loved ones being ill or bereavements during this pandemic. You should be aware of the impact that this can have, which may be heightened at this time. Put policies and support processes in place as you return to work, and include training for your managers. Responding to employees in confidence, communicating effectively and having compassion makes a huge difference.

They may need to take longer breaks or make more personal calls. You should carry out regular reviews with bereaved employees and discuss any adjustments that may be needed to enable them to remain well and in work. They may be preoccupied and lack concentration, therefore may be unable to work to their usual capacity, so be supportive.

Don’t forget physical health

Promoting healthy eating and exercise can support your team’s wellbeing. Many employers offer free fruit as an affordable yet welcomed gesture by employees. Lunch time walks and breaks from work is a chance to get fresh air, clear your mind and get some steps in. Employees usually welcome being consulted and involved in wellbeing initiatives; this alone can generate a sense of inclusiveness.

Failure to consider these points can lead to increased sickness absence, reduced motivation, productivity, and an increase in work-place stress. A positive and understanding attitude from business owners and managers, particularly during these uncertain times, can really make a difference to the wellbeing of your team.

FSB Care provides members with a dedicated nurse who can help you with long-term practical advice and emotional support for any health condition, mental health concerns, disabilities or bereavement for yourself, or give you guidance if you are concerned about an employee.

FSB Care

FSB members with a serious health condition have free access to a personal nurse adviser - providing practical information and emotional support.

Find out more