Supporting Staff wellbeing during COVID-19
14th October 2020
In the new age of conference calls and remote working, it is important we understand that staff wellbeing still needs to be considered. Companies have a duty of care to any staff during a global pandemic as any other time.
Why is this so important? In simpler terms, employee wellbeing has been known for its direct influence on an organisations productivity and performance, whilst simultaneously decreasing uncertified sick days, staff turnover and staff complaints. To accomplish this, it is essential to foster impactful experience and positive emotions. Studies suggest that a lack of this and morale is more likely to cause stress than particular ‘stressors’. You can read about the full study here: ‘http://www.rtwknowledge.org/article_print.php?article_id=193 ‘. Other research support would be research finds regarding the effects of poor workplace wellbeing. CABA found that 39% of employees have left a job due to unfavourable work conditions and poor wellbeing (resulting in reductions of productivity, mental wellbeing and workplace employee communication). More than half the employees surveyed said that they experience reduced mental health wellbeing due to poor wellbeing. In this article, Kelly Feehan (services director for CABA) commended, “So much more is demanded from employees nowadays with our ‘always on’ culture, so how we treat employees needs to change too. This includes motivating them, keeping them engaged and then working with them to support their health and wellbeing both in and out of work. Employers lacking a holistic wellness policy will most likely be seeing these dips in productivity and decreased employee loyalty. Employee wellbeing is not a nice-to-have, it’s a necessity if employers want to attract and retain the best talent.”
(https://www.recruitment-international.co.uk/blog/2017/08/poor-workplace-wellbeing-causes-decrease-in-productivity-for-54-percent-of-employees-research finds#:~:text=2017%20%2F%20Rebecca%20Wilson,Poor%20workplace%20wellbeing%20causes%20decrease%20in,63%25%20of%20employees%2C%20research%20finds&text=More%20than%20half%20of%20the,poor%20personal%20wellbeing%20at%20work. ).
Making these changes to your team, you will see the following benefits:
· Increase in commitment and productivity- Staff that are being valued, are more likely to be in tune with the goals of the organisation, work together positively at an optimal level.
· Improved staff retention- A workplace that adopts loyalty and morale will likely keep staff longer and decrease their turn over time.
· Reduced sick leave- Staff whose wellbeing needs are being met will be less likely to take sick leave.
· A resilient workforce- Resilience building can encourage new ways for staff to cope with day-to-day stresses. Putting the correct wellbeing measure in place can put a stop to problems escalating.
· An enhanced reputation: Investing in staffs’ wellbeing broadcasts a powerful message about your values and ethics. This will likely attract a high quality workforce.
During these difficult times, supporting each other in the workplace is crucial. As a team leader or manager, you should consider the effect this is being had on your entire team. The World Health Organisation published mental health and psychosocial considerations during the COVID-19 outbreak, including measures to protect staff from chronic stress and poor mental health. ( https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/mental-health-considerations.pdf?sfvrsn=6d3578af_8 ). Key tips include:
· Ensure good quality communication and that any provided updates provided to staff are accurate.
· Rotate your workforce from higher-stress to lower-stress areas.
· Use the buddy system. Partner more experienced colleagues with those less experienced. This will ensure everyone as a constant support system and can monitor stresses more effectively.
· Encourage and monitor work breaks.
· Allow flexible scheduling for workers being directly impacted by COVID-19.
· Ensure that colleagues have time built in to their workday to provide social support to each other.
· Provide places where and how staff can access mental health and psychological services.
· Role model your own self-care strategies.
· Implements the ‘Going home checklist’, provided by the NHS.
Understandably, not all of the tips above will be beneficial if you are in the position where staff cannot meet and therefore, your team has become fragmented from working remotely, without face-to-face time with co-workers. Emma Mamo, the Head of Workplace Wellbeing for Mind listed some tips for line managers about supporting their teams.
· Maintain a positive work/life balance and ensure your team is able to do the same – Working remotely makes it easier to work longer hours and take fewer breaks. Over time, your work schedules merges into daily life and the distinction between work and home blurs together. Put reminders in your diary for when you plan to finish working or time you usual lunch breaks. It is important that if given the opportunity, to move yourself away from your work space and get some fresh air.
· Regular check-ins with the team- Working from home, although maybe convenient at first, is now isolating. Ensure you and your team are having check-ins virtually. Schedule these in advance as a group or as 121’s.
· Establish new ways of working- Working remotely requires consideration as to how work can be delivered to the team and how you monitor tasks and deadlines. There are many resources to assist with this that yourself and team should experiment. This process will be trial and error, while you find what works best for you.
· Wellness Action Plans- Encourage your team to create a ‘Wellness Action Plan’ and have them share this with you. This can then be kept up to date in 1-2-1s.
· Take advantage of technology- Use the popular platforms as a resource for effective communication with colleagues. It is a good idea to keep a team group chat running throughout the day, for constant check-ins. This does not need to be strictly work related, commentary on their days and anecdotes are key in creating a safe space for the team to feel comfortable.
· Meet each other- As of today, guidelines allows work groups to meet as long as there is the capacity to 2m socially distance. Although your boardroom may not have enough space, you will find that conference centres and multi-purpose use facilities do and offering spaces for groups to meet and refresh.
Staff wellbeing has always been vital in day-today work life. However, it is now more important than ever to ensure that your team are coping with new stresses. Although everyone follows the same regulations, we all find ourselves in situations unique to us. Therefore, not everyone’s stressors will be the same so keep this in mind and allow your team to feel comfortable sharing their worries and concerns. For more ways to promote wellbeing, visit https://www.mind.org.uk/media-a/4662/resource3_howtopromotewellbeingfinal.pdf for more information.
Remember to stay safe.