10 Simple Ways Business Owners Can Help Staff Stay Positive During Lockdown
Mental health concerns have risen up the agenda for companies during the COVID -19 pandemic as many employees struggle to cope with the multitude and magnitude of changes.
As staff continue to adapt to the continuous lockdowns, working from home rules, being placed on furlough or managing a reduction in wages due to furlough, there is a need for business owners to do all they can to support their staff through these trying times.
Taking a more proactive approach to the well-being of staff is not only good for those employees, but also good for business. Business owners have long understood the effect that absences due to illness can have on the bottom line but according to a recent study from Westfield Health, last year saw a 10% increase in absences due to mental health compared with 2019 and it cost employers £1.3 billion more in lost business.
We’ve compiled a list of some simple things you can do to help your staff stay positive during this difficult time:
- Have short daily catch-ups with your staff regarding work and how they are doing at home. A good way to keep staff engaged is to communicate with them regularly (especially if they are working remotely) as many people may be feeling isolated and alone. Remember to enquire about their well-being as well as anything related to work but keep these catch-ups short and sweet so that they don’t become excessive.
- Remind staff of their access to HR and what they are able to help them with. Many times, employees will not be aware of what resources and help is available to them from their employer. Make sure you communicate to your employees all the ways in which your company is able to support them.
- Make sure that your site is safe and you’ve communicated the measures in place clearly with staff. For staff that do need to go into work it’s important that they feel you’ve done all you can to make the environment as safe as possible. This way they are less likely to feel as anxious about being there. This again is all about good communication. The more you can reassure your staff with regular updates, the better.
- Lead by example. If you want a positive workforce, you should always try to demonstrate that positive attitude yourself. The attitude and values of a business starts from the top. One of CEME’s core values is positive attitude (along with Presentation and Exceeding Expectations) and these values are reiterated across the entire business from the CEO down. Enter all your communications with a positive frame of mind and encourage all your employees, especially those that manage others, to develop that mindset.
- Encourage staff to have regular breaks and short walks. Working from home can be isolating and being cooped up for long periods of time because of lockdown isn’t helping. You may think staff would be taking more breaks than they did when they were in the office but often employees feel less able to do that as they may miss an important phone call or email that in the office someone else may have been able to pick up. Remind your employees that it’s OK for them to take short breaks at reasonable intervals and that they should try to get of the house at least once a day.
- Give staff training on new systems being used to work from home. Help staff adapt to the new set-up by aiding them in learning about online portals such as Zoom, Microsoft teams, and Webex etc, to reduce stress and enable them to use all systems appropriately.
- Ensure staff have relevant resources to work from home effectively. Not having the right resources is stressful at any time so now more than ever, ensuring that your staff feel like they at least have everything they need to do their jobs well is a must. Without this staff could easily become stressed and overwhelmed.
- Make sure all staff have a manageable workload. Again, this is one that is essential to well-being at the best of times but all of these work-related stressors take even more of a toll when people already have so much to contend with.
- Stay connected but trust your employees to do their jobs. Delegate without micromanaging. Staying connected is important but over-doing “catch-ups” and inundating your staff with messages can make them feel smothered and overwhelmed. To effectively manage those working from home, set clear work goals and assess their progress against that instead of making them account for how they’ve spent each minute of their workday.
- Schedule in some virtual socials. Many companies have really come up with some clever ways to stay social during this crisis. Investment firm Wealthsimple, pays for lunchboxes to be delivered to staff at their homes across London so they can have a team ‘Zoom Lunch’ once a week. You could have virtual socials where employees get the chance to just catch-up like they would in the office or set-up fun activities to keep their spirits up like quizzes or Friday night drinks.
Of course this list is not a one-size fits all – different companies will have different ways to manage staff welfare. The most important take-away is to consider things from your staff’s perspective during this time and to be flexible enough to make adaptations where needed.