The COVID-19 pandemic is presenting unique and unprecedented challenges to businesses, making it necessary to find new ways of working and maintaining productivity, whilst also protecting the well-being of our people. Managing employees’ mental and physical health will be critical in fostering team collaboration and resilience at a time when this is needed the most.
Below are some practical tips on how leaders can safeguard their employees’ well-being during this crisis:
1. Communicate effectively
In times of uncertainty, knowledge can be a powerful tool to ease some of the worries and reduce anxiety. Aim to provide some clarity amongst this ambiguity – articulate and communicate any developments that affect the employees and outline contingency plans implemented to protect the business and its workforce. Get in touch with your employees regularly and ensure that you ‘check-in’ with the person and not just their work. Engaging with your employees in this manner will create a connected and open environment which can go a long way in supporting them during this crisis.
2. Emphasise social interaction
Social distancing does not mean social isolation. Technology can provide options for you to help employees feel less alone. Utilise messaging apps to create group channels where employees can communicate with each other. These can serve more than project-related needs — create a channel or group chat for sharing productivity ideas or great articles. Ensure that you set up regular team video chat catch-ups. These do not need to be completely work-focused – schedule a ‘virtual coffee morning’ where staff can catch up on things other than work. Also ensure that your managers are regularly checking-in with their remote staff and are addressing any issues they might be facing.
3. Promote Balance
With remote working, the balance between work and life can get blurred. Make it clear that, just because your employees are working from home, they are not expected to be on call 24/7. Clearly communicate the work schedule that your employees are required to adhere to and, if possible, provide flexibility in the way these hours can be worked. Ensure that employees are assigned realistic goals and timelines, much like they would in an office environment. Finally, encourage employees to take regular breaks and to try to get some fresh air and exercise throughout their working day.
4. Locate resources
When it comes to managing employee well-being, there are limits to the support business leaders can offer. During these times of high stress, anxiety and uncertainty, employees may require access to professional support to help them address certain mental health issues. Make available to the employees any resources or details of organisations who can provide such support and encourage them to reach out if they feel the need.