Taking care of your team is something many companies wish they could prioritise, but in times like we’re currently facing – how do you do this?
We recently wrote about the importance of employee wellbeing during Covid-19 and the impact this is having on work/life balance. It’s within this current climate that we noted how important it is to consider people’s mental health and wellbeing at work, however we understand that can be challenging.
With limited resources such as time, money and even energy, how can companies and managers support their staff whilst making sure they don’t get burn out themselves?
If you don’t have a huge budget, or even a huge staff team, it can be tough but it can be done. We’ve listed some ideas below that may spark inspiration and help your wellbeing and that of your team stay on the agenda.
First and foremost, we would always recommend having an Employee Assistance Programme and/or Counselling available to your team, but there is a cost attached to this.
As an alternative, why not create a list of resources to signpost your staff to organisations that can help? This can include anything from online guidance to helplines or services that may be able to support them. At our charity, we offer a range of services and projects and depending on each individual’s situation, we may be able to offer free or low-cost support.
However, there are also many other fantastic organisations and charities out there that can help. For example – Mind can offer mental health support, the Samaritans offer a free 24 hour helpline for anybody who needs to talk and there are specialist services for those experiencing domestic abuse, with caring responsibilities, going through bereavement and more. We’ve created a Covid-19 Advice and Guidance section to direct people to other organisations that may be able to help.
Bottom line: Create a list of trusted and reputable support services, helplines and organisations and distribute to your teams. Whilst you may not be able to offer direct support, you can encourage people to speak to someone who can.
Review your Internal Comms
Communication is always key, but at the moment it can go a long way.
What are your communication channels to your teams? How regular are they? Who writes them and sends them? Does everybody receive these?
If your team know what kind of information is coming and when to expect it, this can not only help increase transparency, but it ensures that employees are engaging with the changes as they happen. For example - as things are changing so quickly, if you usually send a large newsletter to staff every month or so, consider increasing this to every two weeks or even every week if you can.
Also think about the tone of the content, our work and personal lives have started blurring and people’s mental health has taken a hit… so is a softer approach needed? Could the comms be more down to earth and friendly but still communicate the updates effectively? If it’s usually written in a company tone of voice, could this be more personal and come from a senior member of staff or the CEO? Adding a personal touch can help people feel connected and reassure them.
You could also try mixing up the internal comms – for example, a video instead of a written document. You can even include a “good news” section like we do at our charity which includes personal news such as staff members getting married or being awarded a qualification, to positive feedback from clients. It can help staff feel connected to one another and celebrate achievements.
Bottom Line: Have a look at your current comms channels and consider making some tweaks to make sure you’re communicating in the best way possible for your teams.
Encourage Healthy Habits
It’s always important for us to take care of our own physical and mental health and companies can play their role in cultivating an environment that allows their teams to do this.
This can be from basic things such as ensuring workloads are feasible within work hours to making it easy for people to take time off for health appointments.
Can your team work flexibly so they can attend doctors’ appointments if they need to? Can they have time off for counselling appointments and work this back at another point? Would they feel comfortable taking a sick day for their mental wellbeing, or would they need to be physically unwell to take the time off they need? These are small and relatively easy things to implement, it just requires a little sensitivity, flexibility and organisation.
Also consider the impact of working from home and staring at a computer all day. Do you encourage your team to take time away from the computer? To stand up, stretch and take short breaks to rest their eyes? Nobody likes staring at a screen for 8+ hours all day without a break!
Bottom Line: Be open to giving your team space to care for their physical and mental health and make it easier for them to do so.
Provide Opportunities for Connection
Through Covid-19 many of us have lost the casual and easy moments of connection we have with others, and the workplace is not exempt from this impact.
For people who are working in offices the opportunities to connect with other members of staff may have been reduced because of increased workloads. If time is there, having a catch up when making a brew in the kitchen just isn’t the same 2 meters apart with face masks on!
In addition, working from home can mean a more isolated working life. There is no face to face contact with colleagues (unless through a screen!) and everything from formal meetings to casual catch ups may have been reduced to increase efficiency and ease. Could you bring this back, or help it along?
You could replace staff socials with a digital option – for example we do a digital Coffee and Cake with the CEO, which is just a space for staff to come together, chat and ask any questions they may have. Do you have a culture which encourages staff to talk to one another, or have working task groups in which people can work as a team rather than in isolation? If you wanted to go one step further, you could set up a peer support system which ‘buddies up’ staff with one another to share support and advice.
If you have an intranet messaging channel – do staff use this? Could you encourage them to? If you don’t have one, there are many free options online! Allowing staff to chat in real time can replace the informal conversations they’d normally be having in the office.
Bottom Line: Encourage connection between teams and individuals, so everyone in the organisation has somebody to work with and talk to if they need it.
Ultimately, the above are just a few ideas to help cultivate an environment where people feel cared for. Prioritising staff wellbeing will not only make sure they’re healthier, but likely that even in the current circumstances, they are happier coming to work and can focus on what needs to be done.
In a world where everyone is going through something, the small things can go a long way.
If you did want to support your team by offering counselling, or learn more, as a leading North West charity with nearly 40 years' experience in counselling and wellbeing, we can help.
To learn more about our Employee Counselling Click Here.
Or, to download our Covid-19 Employee Wellbeing brochure, Click Here.