Article by Julie Provino, international HR expert and award-winning CEO and founder of HR consultancy VeryHR
Mental health and general wellbeing have never been so high on the agenda.
With the recent pandemic ravaging neighbouring countries and the UK government working to keep everyone safe, businesses are rapidly implementing stringent contingency plans.
Many of us – if not most – are now home based, working remotely with the prospect of staying cooped up inside for weeks on end. At the same time, some of us are also looking after other family members. And for all of us, this is an unprecedented situation.
The irony is that today is International Day of Happiness, and, of course, is it’s hard to promote happiness when the whole world is at the mercy of a major pandemic. But it’s not impossible.
So how can businesses support wellbeing for their employees in such tumultuous times?
The good news is many organizations are adopting a humanistic approach to the welfare of their employees, despite the potential economic repercussions. These businesses are to be applauded.
However, as a mental health first aider, I understand the damage to overall wellbeing that working in isolation can bring. So, here are some key points to bear in mind.
Listening to the radio this morning, I was shocked when there was no mention from the presenters about the pandemic. Simply pretending that it was just another lovely spring day just seemed wrong.
No-one wants to be inundated with bad news 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. But if businesses completely avoid the Coronavirus topic, this will only create more confusion, while generating a lack of trust and general un-ease among the workforce.
So, my point is: communicate clearly and regularly with everyone. Most of us are well-versed in all the latest social media apps. Many of my clients are now using tools like Slack, Zoom and WhatsApp to keep conversations flowing. Encourage your line managers to call their team mates, and have a verbal exchange with them at least once a day. When someone working from home is asked “How are you?” it can make a huge difference to their day.
Caring for one another will go a long way to increasing wellbeing during the current crisis.
As human beings, we’re programmed to need each other. We’re sociable creatures, so having a discussion via webcam or the phone isn’t as fulfilling as a face-to-face chat at the coffee machine. What’s more, we all know that sometimes a hug or a handshake says much more than words.
While working remotely, it’s very important for people to regularly network and work together. It might not be the same as face to face contact but it’s essential. Encourage your staff to do just that. You could, for instance, suggest teams meet every day for 15 minutes, albeit remotely, to discuss what each team member is working on.
Remember: keeping people in contact with other people is vital.
More and more small businesses are delivering their services online. Consider offering online yoga or mindfulness classes to your workers – something that gives them the opportunity to take a rest and be entertained for an hour every week, or even a couple of minutes each day.
Engage in some out-of-the-box activities and encourage people to take part.
Now more than ever is the ideal time to perform good deeds for the benefit of those in need. This could be anything from shopping for neighbours or elderly relatives to supporting local businesses. Ultimately, encouraging your employees to perform altruistic tasks will generate a feel-good vibe for everyone involved.
Many people are naturally concerned, worried, or even scared about the pandemic. Give them something positive to do and the effects will ripple through society.
About the author
Introducing Julie Provino, an international HR expert and the CEO of VeryHR. Julie believes HR is a key driver to business growth and that the right HR strategy and approach unleashes a business’s human potential. She works with businesses all around the world to help them boost employee engagement, performance and wellbeing. This enables them to cultivate a culture of innovation and trust so that their managers and leaders can be laser focused on performance and delivery, which ultimately results in increased ROI.
She has over 20 years of experience working in corporate HR, training teams and individuals. She is in demand across the globe, with key clients from Europe, US, APAC and Eastern Europe to Africa.
Julie founded her HR consultancy VeryHR in 2013 and it has gone from strength to strength ever since. It has become the go-to HR agency for brands around the world, including US tech giants Jive Software, AppDynamics and Zuroa. She has also helped facilitate major M&A deals alongside Jaggaer and AccelKKR. Her unique brand is ‘HR with personality’, enabling companies to realise the full strength of the human resource of a company. She has transformed HR to be more than a support function. When deployed by Julie, HR is a driver of growth that can elevate a business by unleashing its human potential.
Julie is a thought-leader on how technology such as AI and chatbots can enhance the future of HR. She also champions corporate healing, which she believes to be necessary in the wake of scandals such as #MeToo and the prevalence of toxic corporate cultures which inhibit the human ability to thrive.