Employee Wellbeing During Lockdown
If Employee Wellbeing wasn’t already a significant strategic priority it surely will be now due to the Covid-19 pandemic. To support this statement the CIPD report that two thirds of employer’s biggest challenge during the unprecedented time is supporting their employee’s mental health and wellbeing.
We know many people are extremely worried at the moment be that from a health or economic perspective, and ultimately the impact it will likely have on their lives. Adding in the increasing prevalence of homeworking and social isolation it is essential that we look after ourselves and our employees.
For organisations to come through the crisis in a positive state they will need to show many traits from resilience and adaptability to collaboration and positivity.
These are also traits you are going to need from your employees.
So what can a business to do to support?
1 - Establish new ways of working
It is impossible to carry on with the business as usual mind-set. Nothing is normal about being quarantined or self-isolation. Many employees will be embracing different styles of working for the first time such as using collaborative platforms or online meetings with their managers. Adding into this there will be many employees who are having to balance work with home-schooling or entertaining little children it is essential that employers adapt.
Employers have a responsibility to their employees to flex the normal working arrangements to accommodate this. A really positive employer may even be able to support an employee to get a better work to life balance than they had before. How many parents have worried about either not being in the office enough whilst also worrying about not spending enough time with their children.
2 - Communication
Effective communication has always been critical to success and Coronavirus will not change that. However what is the right level of communication and does your communication style need to adapt.
Regular clear, open, honest and unambiguous communication is essential both from an employer and a line management perspective. If this doesn’t happen isolated employees are going to feel even more cut off.
There is a balance though, employees need to be trusted. If previously there wasn’t a culture of homeworking and you start requesting constant updates you are going to create resentment and a fear culture.
3 - Online resources
There are limitations in terms of the support you can provide your employees remotely. For instance you may normally provide them with various face-to-face wellbeing services from Health Assessments to access to CBT Therapists. It is therefore essential that your online resources are of the highest quality and easy to locate.
One such example may be your Employee Assistance Programme (EAP). Do you currently actively promote it? This is often one of those solutions that goes quietly under the radar but can be an excellent tool particularly during an unsettling time like this.
Don’t limit yourself to what you already have available though, it would be wise to familiarise yourself with the abundance of excellent resources that are available externally (often free) so you can signpost your employees effectively.
4 - Ergonomics
Often people who start working from home for the first time report higher levels of aches and pains, particularly in the neck, shoulders and upper back region. Couple this with decreasing levels of physical activity as a result of spending your day in your house, then coronavirus will definitely be causing an issue even if indirectly.
As an employer you can assist your employees in ensuring their workspace is set up comfortably. Even advising to simply adjust your seat height or screen to ensure it is at eye level will have a significant positive impact. You could also encourage regular 20 minute break throughout the day to simply move around and keep your back active. Or how about asking your employees to stand up for conference calls.
If you require more specialist help with regards to ergonomics there are many providers you can support in this area.
5 - Furlough Leave
Unfortunately there may circumstances where it is impossible to maintain regular operations and therefore need to put some employees on the furlough scheme. Apart from the aforementioned EAP scheme, how about setting up regular calls with these employees. They may not be able to help with work, but you can talk about how they are coping, signpost them or simply share best practice regarding coping strategies with other colleagues.
It is also important to get them to think about their mental health and how they can effectively manage it during a crisis. What are their goals during this time? Do they want to learn a new skill which might help them when they return to work? Or maybe are they interested in volunteering which can really assist mental health?
6 - Take care of yourself
Employee Wellbeing is often the responsibility of the of the HR/People function and employees will subsequently take their cues from them, so it is essential that these people who are providing the structure and guidance are following best practice and looking after themselves too.
HR/People teams at this time are more than likely extremely stretched with facilitating remote working, updating policies and evolving ways of working. If you are a leader of this function then please do take time to step back and look after your own wellbeing.
Lastly by simply taking time out to pause and being considered in every action you take will ensure you make better decisions for your teams.