There is plenty of research that shows a happy workforce increases performance and productivity in a business. Employees who feel physically and emotionally healthy are more likely to be engaged, productive and committed to their jobs.
They will also be more able to cope with the disruption and stress a new routine may bring.
COVID has resulted in a huge rise in home working and a related increasing reliance on technology – both of which can have a potential impact on the health and wellbeing of our workforce.
Adapting to homeworking
It can be difficult for employees to adapt to a new work style if they are used to a high level of interaction with their team every day. If a typical working day involves a bustling office atmosphere, calling clients or attending meetings, the new working from home policy can take its toll on employee’s mental health and wellbeing as this drastic change can cause a feeling of isolation.
Safeguarding your employee’s mental health and emotional wellbeing does not have to be on overwhelming task, even a quick phone call can go a long way.
Keep in contact
• Daily, every other day or weekly phone calls or even video calls are key.
• They will enable you to continually assess workflow, set new tasks and check on your employee’s wellbeing.
• They open up the opportunity to discuss topics that aren’t work-related – catching up on plans for the weekend, asking after their family…..you would usually have these types of conversations in passing, over lunch or in brief meetings so it’s important to maintain this level of socialising where you can.
Promote a healthy work-life balance
Overwork is more of a threat to an organisation than underwork when staff are working from home.
There are fewer colleagues to take you for a coffee or pull you over for an opportune chat. Video calls take up so much of the day that subsequent actions and written work are being done in the evenings. The inbox buzzes from dawn till dusk – with early starters and late finishers emailing around the clock.
As an employer you need to balance keeping productivity up alongside encouraging people to keep taking breaks. When working from home it can be very easy to feel tempted to stay at your laptop throughout your lunch or extend the end of the day by a few hours.
• Encourage staff to work only their contracted hours and not stretch their working day into home life
• Ban online meetings between 12 and 1, to encourage a proper lunch break.
• Make 1:1s a walking phone call outside, to encourage exercise and a screen break.
• Encourage staff to put their work equipment out of sight when its home time which will make a big difference in marking the end of the working day.
• Share links to free apps such as Nike Training Club or Daily Workouts Fitness Trainer
Schedule regular team meetings
Ensure team meetings and catch-ups scheduled in your diary are not bumped out, they are an important way to connect with your staff.
• Ensure the consistency of the normal working week
• Replicate the ‘buzz’ of the normal work environment, helping people connect and socialise.
• Enable virtual lunches to be established where employees can eat with each other over a video call
Collaborative tools and platforms
There are plenty of tools that allow employees to interact with one another. Employees can often feel like they are on an island so by having the ability to surround themselves with colleagues through these inherently social collaboration forums, can boost productivity and morale.
Note though the phenomenon of ‘zoom fatigue’! Video calls are found to be a more draining way to meet with colleagues as our brains need to work harder to process information and work out visual cues that we rely on in analogue exchanges.
• Appreciating that conference calling can be difficult for those who are the less forthright in a team will help managers to facilitate online meetings.
• Cap the number of attendees when appropriate.
• Employees who feel they are spending an excessive amount of time in virtual meetings need to be encouraged to have the confidence to ask to step out when required.
• All virtual meeting attendees should turn off all other digital distractions such as phone and inbox to help them be truly present and get the most out of the time on the call.
Provide mental health training and resources
It is important that your employees know that you support them so by communicating this to them can really benefit their wellbeing. Employee Assistance Programmes are a resource that employers can sign up to giving employees unlimited access to phone support from qualified counsellors so they can discuss anything they need to.
Running a ‘wellbeing’ day or week or month is always well received. You may consider the following to get staff motivated and engaged:
• Virtual lunch with a Deliveroo allowance
• Virtual yoga or meditation sessions
• Virtual mindfulness
• Virtual session on health and nutrition
• Virtual bingo or quiz
• Random act of kindness – posted each month
Call to action!
• GoodHR can provide you with a staff wellbeing checklist for your managers and heads of department.
• GoodHR can provide you with a mental health and wellbeing audit – and even conduct it on your behalf, gathering the information and feeding it back to you.
Do get in touch by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07917 878384