furlough and mental health

How to support remote and furloughed employees’ mental health

furlough and mental health
Remote working brings about all kinds of challenges that those who are new to it might not quite be prepared to face. For furloughed workers, it can be even more of a shock to the system, particularly where lockdown restrictions mean filling that free time can be even more difficult.

Believe it or not, being away from those water cooler chats, banter about the football or simple conversations about the weekend or the weather can take its toll on a person’s mental health. Throw a worldwide pandemic in there and it becomes even more difficult.

Luckily, there are a few ways you can support your staff whether they’re remote working or furloughed. Here’s how!


Let staff know support is available

Simply letting staff know that support is there for them if needed is key. It’s also important to let staff know what support works best in what situations.

For example, if an employee begins to feel a sense of loneliness then joining in on social catch-up calls and conferences could be a good option. If an employee begins to feel more anxious or worried, then support provided by an EAP could work best.

It is also important to make sure staff are consistently made aware of the support available to them. Check on employees individually where you can and send out updates regularly to remind staff that they have options if they’re struggling with their mental wellbeing.


furlough and mental health

Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) and other support

As mentioned, an EAP can provide valuable support at any time but particularly at times like these.

An EAP provides 24/7 confidential support for all manner of mental health challenges including support for financial or legal problems or any issues affecting a person’s mental wellbeing. Support can be provided over the phone.

Whether staff are remote working or furloughed they should still have access to their EAP.

More and more companies are offering the EAP to their staff as they look to help provide employees a valuable support channel in helping improve their mental wellbeing.

If you don’t offer an EAP, try pointing staff in the direction of other support options that are publicly available.

Many mental health charities and foundations find themselves overwhelmed at times like these, so be sure to do your research and make the right recommendations for the sake of your employees but also the charities too!


Keep staff up to date

Make sure to keep staff updated with how the business is managing the challenges of these uncertain times and what is being done to maintain business performance.

Now more than ever staff are looking for certainty and employees shouldn’t be left in the dark.

A regular update once or twice a week along with one-to-one discussions where necessary or possible should help alleviate any anxiety.


furlough and mental health

Provide learning and development opportunities

This is particularly important for furloughed workers but can also be beneficial for remote staff too who may be working with a reduced workload.

Not only will this give your furloughed staff in particular something to keep their brain ticking over and their mind occupied, but it’ll show you’re still investing in them and their future.

Staying busy and keeping the mind active is crucial in maintaining good mental wellbeing.

If you have resources you can offer to your staff, then make sure they’re aware of what is available to them. Alternatively, there are plenty of free learning resources available online which you can point your staff in the direction of.


Have social virtual get-togethers

Bring all your staff together, whether they’re front-line, remote or furloughed, by hosting or encouraging regular social virtual get-togethers among staff.

They don’t have to be restricted to specific groups and can be interdepartmental, anything that can mimic the workplace in terms of social interaction.

This helps staff maintain their social relationships with colleagues and boost morale during difficult times. It also lets them know that they’re a valued part of the business!


Help with home workouts

Physical wellbeing supports mental wellbeing! During the first coronavirus lockdown in the UK, Joe Wicks inspired the nation with his daily home workouts.

Chances are you have someone or a group of fitness fanatics in your ranks who could do their own daily or weekly live workouts for staff?

Alternatively, there are lots of useful workouts available online that employees can try at home.

We’ve even written about it before in our blog on how to get fit without using the gym, which includes some great workouts you can try at home!

When you’re in a slump and feeling low, it can be hard to find the motivation to exercise. However, exercise can be the positive catalyst needed for change and to improve mental health.

By providing workouts for your staff, you’re also giving employees another way to stay connected with their colleagues while remote working or furloughed.

When it comes to furlough and mental health, exercise is key!


Other Useful Ideas

  • Create a Facebook group: Keep everyone connected by setting up a Facebook group for people to share their experiences working from home or on furlough leave!
  • Nominate mental health champions: If there’s anyone at your company who is a trained mental health first aider or has experience, now could be a good time to nominate them as a support channel for staff! If you’d like to get mental health training for your staff, here’s some more advice.


While employees everywhere are working their hardest to not only help others as frontline workers or help their business get through difficult times working from home, it’s as important as ever for employers to make the mental wellbeing of staff a priority.

It’s also equally as important to take care of your furloughed staff and make sure they’re aware of the support that is still available to them.


For the latest info on how caboodle are helping businesses during the Coronavirus pandemic, take a look at our COVID-19: how we can help page.

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