By Craig Bulow, Corporate Away Days.
As you consider how Covid-19 is affecting your business it is very important to also consider how it is affecting your staff.
I don’t mean the medical aspect of the virus, but rather the impact on employees’ mental health as they face the anxiety, uncertainty, and isolation at home, that is being caused.
To support your staff here are some things to consider:
Your team will be stressed; about the virus, loved ones, 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 and tell them the truth. Help people understand what the company is doing and your plans. 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.
Working from home means we lose the human connection we normally get with colleagues.
Organising regular group conference calls using Zoom or Skype will help maintain this. Wherever possible, have video calls where you can see each other. Include time to talk about work, the latest developments of COVID-19 and any worries and concerns you have. Allow time for 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.
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.
Encouraging your team to exercise is great from keeping people motivated and keeping their mental health strong. Suggest use a mat 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.
As none of us know how long Covid-19 will last, plan on a month-by-month basis. If goals can be achieved in a short timeframe, it’s a great way to encourage your team to stay focussed. It also gives employers a good excuse to regularly sing the praises of your team.
Some of the best stress reducers are fun and laughter. Whilst there doesn’t seem much to look forward to right now, over time we’ll 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 wellbeing theme, an activity that is inspiring and engaging that allows individuals to reconnect 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.
Appreciation and thanks
Be imaginative about how you let your team knows you appreciate them. You may not be able to stretch to a “back-to-normal bonus”, but you can come up with something that will make them glad to be returning to normal. Can you offer an extra week’s holiday or a fabulous party? If they’ve enjoyed working remotely, perhaps home-working more frequently could be a reward!
Supporting your staff with concern for their mental wellbeing is an important part of dealing with Covid-19. Please keep it at the top of your business agenda.