Looking After The Well-being of Your Lone Workers
Britain’s workforce is stressed, and lone workers are no exception. Being a lone worker can be isolating, which can lead to higher stress levels if not managed properly. Looking after the well-being of your lone workers requires special measures to be taken.
In this guide we will give you five practical tips for looking after the wellbeing of lone workers.
What Are The Risks to Lone Worker’s Well-being?
The HSE recently posted their 2016/2017 statistics on the levels of stress in Britain’s workforce.
Over half a million workers are suffering with stress, anxiety, or depression. This has resulted in 12.5 million working days lost in one year.
The amount of working days lost is a measurable statistic, but the real cost to a business is less easy to measure.
Absenteeism, fractured working relationships, a damaged workplace culture, and high levels of staff turnover are all common results of stress and anxiety at work.
Plus, it is important to remember that the real cost of workplace stress is to the sufferer. Stress can lead to health problems, substance abuse, or relationship issues.
Why Are Lone Workers More Susceptible to Stress?
According to the HSE statistics, a lack of support at work makes up 14% of the causes of stress in the workplace.
Lone workers are, by the nature of their role, more isolated from their colleagues and managers. This means they need to be self-reliant and solve everyday problems on their own, which can leave them feeling unsupported.
Not only that, but they can be often overlooked during, or miss out on, office celebrations, communications, and training.
Asa result they may find it more difficult to identify with the company, or forge workplace relationships.
The HSE statistics also state that violence, threats and bullying account for 13% of workplace stress.
Lone workers are often at higher risk of bullying, threats, harassment, or violence if their job puts them in contact with the public, or particularly troubled service users. For example, probation staff, housing association staff, and hospital workers are often alone with service users who are likely to be prone to unpleasant behaviour.
Being in a perceived position of authority, such as the roles mentioned above, leaves the lone worker more vulnerable to threats, attacks, or harassment.
The effects felt by the lone worker are exacerbated if the person feel unsupported.
Top Tips For Looking After Lone Workers
There are some simple steps that can be taken to look after the wellbeing of your lone workers
Schedule regular meetings with your lone workers
Make sure that your lone workers are having regular meetings with their line manager and colleagues.
These meetings don’t have to be long, but they should be used to update the lone worker on any new initiatives, policies, or clients. They can also be used to give the lone worker time to air any concerns or problems they may have.
It can be difficult to ensure these meetings continue and are not replaced by pressing tasks, but they can be protected by including them in your lone worker policy (see number 4 for more information on creating a good lone worker policy).
It is also important that the onus isn’t always on the lone worker to travel to meet their line manager. If possible, the line manager should visit the lone worker as often as possible at their place of work.
Not only does this help the lone worker feel more supported, but it also helps the line manager understand the pressures and risks faced by their team member due to their environment.
Offer regular training
Studies show that staff feel more supported and valued when they receive regular, suitable, and effective training. It shows you are invested in them and care.
Offering training that is bespoke to the lone workers on topics such as personal safety, driving at night, and maintaining data protection whilst traveling between sites can help them feel valued and give them solutions to some of their common problems,
Keep in touch
A quick text to your lone workers to ensure they got home safely, or friendly email at lunch time to see how their day is going can go a long way in showing you value your lone workers.
Similarly, making sure that you make time for them if they try to get in touch with you demonstrates your commitment to their wellbeing.
Don’t let emails or phone messages go unanswered for long and make sure they know it isn’t a case of ‘out of sight, out of mind’.
Have a good lone worker policy
A dedicated lone worker policy is an effective way of protecting your remote staff.
It should complement the lone worker risk assessment and cover their obligations, and yours.
Consider including how they should inform colleagues of their whereabouts, how they should check in and out of their tasks, and how they should use their lone worker device, if they have one.
Provide proper equipment
Having a buddy system is great, but the most effective way to make your colleagues feel valued and safe is to provide proper, dedicated equipment or technology.
A lone worker device or app lets your lone workers safely and discreetly raise an alarm if they are threatened or at risk, set a timer for high risk tasks, and be protected by a Man Down function if they fall suddenly.
Not only that, but the monitoring station who receive the alerts can quickly pinpoint the location of workers, and have a direct line to the police, meaning raising an alarm through the device is much quicker than calling 999.
With our unique Connect Portal, your staff can keep an eye on the location and status of their team in real time.