By Craig Bulow, Corporate Away Days
With Covid-19 dominating the news and companies, wherever possible, encouraging staff to work from home, it’s important to consider not only how it’s affecting your business but how it’s affecting your employees.
I’m not talking about the medical aspect of avoiding or dealing with contracting Covid-19, but rather the mental health impact of the worry, the uncertainty and the isolation that the virus is causing.
Here are seven things to consider, as an employer, to help look after the mental wellbeing of your staff:
Your team is going to be stressed; about the virus, about loved ones, about whether they are doing a good job from home and, generally, about job security.
One proven way of alleviating stress is having clear, honest, regular conversations with your team. Put a time in your diary to speak to them – don’t leave it to chance.
Let them know what the business is doing, tell them the truth – don’t sugar coat it. Help people understand what the company is doing and what plans it has. The truth may not be pleasant, but it is always better than a lie. If your employee loses trust when working remotely, it can be very toxic.
Maintaining the office atmosphere
Working from home means we lose the human connection we normally get with our colleagues.
Organising regular group conference calls using Zoom or Skype is a great step to help maintain this. Wherever possible, have video calls where you can all see each other. You can include time to talk about work, the latest developments of COVID-19 and any worries and concerns you have. Allow time for a chat about non-work-related issues too. Ask your team how their families are, where they are exercising, what recipes they are trying to stretch provisions, etc.
This way you can keep the connection your team enjoys in the office and even build upon it.
As an employer, it would be beneficial to offer staff some form of counselling, with an internal wellbeing / trained HR Officer or an external professional. You could offer this on a group basis as well; arrange a group conference call to share concerns with a number of employees at the same time.
The calls could be used to talk through various tools that can be used to reduce stress and anxiety; covering mindfulness techniques, sleep, rest, nutrition and diet and how to keep calm and focused.
Clear lines of communication
When working in the office, there are established lines of communication in place and there needs to be clarity as to how this is replicated when working remotely. Employees will benefit from having a clear line of communication; knowing who to call, when to call, and how to reach the right people if they have a query.
However, you also need to avoid being overwhelmed by phone calls!
An organised approach to managing call times, blocking out hour slots to receive or make calls to individuals or, as discussed, a conference call for more general group discussions – are all great ways to limit a deluge of phone calls.
Keeping people motivated
Encouraging your team to exercise is great from keeping people motivated and keeping their mental health strong. Suggest they lay a mat inside / outside and do stretches, push ups, sit ups, planks, some form of body strengthening as well as cardio.
Then ask your team to share their routines with colleagues, creating another topic for self-maintenance and the pandemic survival at home.
More importantly, trusting and empowering staff to work from home will be a great motivator in itself.
None of us know how long this will last so you may as well plan on a month-by-month basis. If goals can be achieved in a short time-frame, it is a great way to encourage your team to stay focussed and also gives you as an employer a good excuse to sing the praises of your team on a regular basis.
Something to look forward to
Some of the best stress relivers are fun and laughter. Whilst there doesn’t seem much to look forward to right now, as time passes we will be able to see the end of the pandemic.
Giving your team something to look forward to, something exciting, would be a perfect way to keep them motivated, inspired and create a conversation / discussion on that group chat.
For example, an away day out of the office with a mental wellbeing theme, an activity that is inspiring and engaging that allows individuals to reconnect and rebuild connections after a long period of isolation. www.corporate-away-days.co.uk offer 27 live wellbeing events that aim to connected individuals from all corners of the workplace, at all levels.
Be creative – within budgets – to make sure your team knows you appreciate them. If you can’t afford a “back-to-normal bonus”, think of something that will make them glad to be returning to normality. Can you offer them each an extra week’s holiday or a fabulous summer party? Who knows, if they found they really thrived working remotely, perhaps doing that more often could be the reward!
Employers really can make a difference to the employee experience when working remotely and to succeed you need your team, so you must be putting their mental health and wellbeing right at the top of your list.
About the author
Craig Bulow is the founder of Corporate Away Days, a corporate wellbeing events company delivering engaging, inspiring and exciting events focussed on Wellbeing and Reward activities. Corporate Away Days also creates, designs and builds corporate wellbeing policies and provides leading experts for interactive workshops, seminars and talks on improving mental health and overall wellbeing.
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