We all have mental health just as we have physical health so it is something we should speak about a lot more openly, even more so this year due to the Coronavirus pandemic and effects of long lockdowns and periods of isolation. Change is hard for most people and learning to use new technologies, such as Zoom or Teams, whilst keeping motivated at home with distractions, or even the pressure of being furloughed with a reduced salary, are all things that can put pressure on our wellbeing and in turn affect our mental health.
With lockdown restrictions constantly changing we find ourselves adapting to a new normal, which includes the way in which we work. However, during this transition it is important as an employer to ensure that wellbeing remains at the forefront. But how can this be managed?
Although we are currently restricted on what we do outside of work, it is still important, if not more so, that employees have a fair work/life balance. Promote this by ensuring employees:
- Always take a full lunch break even if working from home; time away from the desk is crucial to ensure the employee is ready for the second part of their day to begin with a fresh mind.
- Take their full annual leave entitlement; I know this is difficult currently and a lot of staff have a large pot of annual leave to take but regular days switched off will refresh the body and mind.
- Look out for signs of excessive hours being worked, emails being sent out of hours, or at the weekend when an employee may not necessarily be expected to work. If this is a regular occurrence it could mean that they are not switching off out of hours to enable them to share time with family or friends.
Miscommunication is a common reason for employees to feel stressed and undervalued so regardless if an employee is working in an office or at home or even out in the field it is important to –
- Keep in contact with them, this is when you will most likely notice chances in someone’s wellbeing by conducting regular calls. Be compassionate and take a genuine interest in your staff, conversations do not always need to be work related.
- Keep employees involved in key company conversations for example changes in lockdown rules and the potential of working from home, how does this affect them? What are their thoughts? Always listen to their point of view and take their comments on board as this is a chance for them to raise their concerns.
- Set and outline realistic targets for the day/week so employees know and are aware of what is expected of them and have the ability to prioritise their tasks.
- Share positive stories maybe have a weekly company update that can outline what has been achieved and also give employee’s an honest understanding of the current state of the company during the pandemic.
Having trust in your employees and vice versa is so important in a healthy working relationship.
- To enable an employee to open up about their concerns or struggles they need to know that conversation will not be shared with others unless agreed between both parties. It takes a lot for someone to speak out, so damaging that trust could ruin a working relationship and also affect their wellbeing even more so.
- Don't micromanage! If an employee is working from home, you may not have the ability to know exactly what that employee is doing and that is okay. Trust that you have outlined at the beginning of the week or day the tasks due to be completed and that constant calls for updates may cause unnecessary anxiety to the employee. If a task is not completed within an agreed timeframe, that is the time to engage in conversation to see if they require additional support.
This isn’t a one size fits all approach to managing employee wellbeing, but I feel it is a step in the right direction to support all staff during this challenging time.