7 tips to follow for employee wellbeing

General anxiety, caused by the coronavirus outbreak, is the main challenge faced by companies right now*.

Worries over the economic upheaval, the health and wellbeing of themselves and loved ones, having to maintain a duty of care to dependants, adjusting to remote working… These are all contributing factors to people’s anxiety. So it isn’t hard to see how the effects of COVID-19 will likely take its toll on a large number of people within our workforce.

With that in mind, we’ve created these seven tips to help you with your employee wellbeing in this difficult period.

1. Develop skills to help you manage and support remote workers

For the majority of managers today, leading a completely remote team means different demands and requires a new skillset. We have just launched a new affordable coaching offer in direct response to this challenge being felt by managers. Usually, coaching requires a commitment of 3 to 6 sessions; however, our specially developed sessions are 60 to 90 minutes maximum and are specifically designed as stand-alone, on-demand units addressing a specific area of concern (e.g. delegating remotely, optimising team working, stress management etc). This new offer of one to one sessions are available immediately. To find out more or book a session, please contact Chrissie.saunders@peoplebusiness.co.uk.

2. Communication is key

With so much uncertainty right now, a lack of information from employers doesn’t help employees’ anxieties. It’s vital to decide company policy on matters such as sick pay, furloughing employees and annual leave, and ensure you’re communicating your plans accordingly.

Communicate regularly with your people – including furloughed employees – so that they understand what’s happening as the situation changes. Clear and frequent communication, irrespective of whether the news is good or bad, is extremely helpful for people’s state of mind and employee wellbeing.

3. Check in regularly

In addition to communicating policy and guidelines, set up non-work check-ins. Virtual coffee mornings or lunch breaks allow colleagues to catch up informally and will add a healthy dose of normality to people’s working lives. Where possible, use video conferencing with cameras on so that colleagues can see each other.

Find out about people’s hobbies and encourage staff to keep up with existing hobbies and find new ones – baking, gardening, crafting, reading – maybe your team could set up a remote book club?

During check-ins, reassure people that feeling sad, stressed, confused, scared or angry are all perfectly normal emotions during a crisis. Discuss the importance of a healthy lifestyle – diet, sleep, exercise, social contact with loved ones. Encourage anyone feeling overwhelmed to talk, whether to colleagues, family, friends or, if they need more help, to a medical professional.

We are developing a “Survive and Thrive” guide to improve and enhance mental health. Drawing on learnings from the field of Positive Psychology and Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), it is packed with information and activities addressing issues such as resilience, sleep, balancing calm with stress (and understanding why some stress is a good thing), energy and many more. If you are interested in purchasing this guide, please contact julie.ware@peoplebusiness.co.uk.

4. Lead by example; encourage employees to have a positive work-life balance

Many people actually work longer hours when working from home. People feel pressure to be always online – worried that it’ll seem as if they’re not working, and instead working too much. If your staff fall into the trap of working long days it won’t be long before they burnout.

Encourage employees to avoid working longer hours than usual, and stress the importance of taking designated breaks. One way of doing this is by setting a good example and take breaks yourself, exercising within the guidelines and working reasonable hours.

One good way of demonstrating this is to ask your managers to create short diaries of their working days to show all staff that everyone takes breaks and that they should too.

5. Set realistic and reasonable expectations, followed by support

As well as encouraging people to not overwork, understand that not everyone is going to be able to deliver work as they normally would. Working from home, especially for those with children or family to care for, will be challenging for some. Therefore, it’s recommended to measure outputs instead of desk-time to provide flexibility to employees that need it.

Let staff know you understand their capacity issues. Telling people you are ready to support them as best you can will alleviate worries they may have around underperforming in these challenging times.

6. Have staff be responsible for the mental health of others

If your team has trained Mental Health First Aiders, make sure your staff know who they are and how to contact them with any employee wellbeing concerns. You can also ask your Mental Health First Aiders to create wellbeing plans for your team. If you don’t have anyone trained in your company, maybe now is a good time to invest – remember that furloughed staff are allowed to undertake training whilst on furlough.

Keep an eye on staff members who may have unsettled home lives, struggle with mental or physical health, have financial difficulties or anything else that may be exacerbated while at home. For some, leaving the house for work was their salvation; think how buddying, mental health champions or cultural ambassadors can support your teams. Regular, consistent and empathetic communication is critical at this time.

7. Signpost effectively

There’s plenty of great advice and support available. Take advantage of free online resources from organisations such as Mind, the NHS website and many others.

For more information about any of our services or products, please do get in touch.

*according to a poll conducted by People Management.