10 Ways to Support Employee Wellbeing During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Tuesday 01 September 2020
With no end to the pandemic in sight, employee wellbeing is coming under increasing strain. In these challenging conditions, many employees are under pressure to perform more and so may be working longer hours, many are facing job insecurity in this uncertain economic climate and many are juggling childcare responsibilities with working from home or are facing social isolation.
Not surprisingly, these challenges are leading to stress and anxiety for many workers. Recognising that excessive stress and anxiety can aﬀect functioning and the ability to think at every level of the organisation, what practical measures can we take to help support our employees during these times?
1. Aim to establish a culture of learning from experience when things go wrong and avoid blame. We are in an ever changing situation, as the process unfolds decisions will be made which will need to be revised.
2. Ensure that good quality communication and accurate information updates are provided to all staﬀ.
3. Avoid actions and communications which may increase feelings of helplessness and loss of control in staﬀ.
4. Recognise staﬀ’s speciﬁc needs and make reasonable adjustments. For example, introduce ﬂexibility for workers who have been directly aﬀected by COVID-19 or who are juggling work with childcare demands.
5. Check in regularly with your staﬀ. Encourage staﬀ to be open and honest about how they feel by creating an environment where they feel safe to do so. Ask how they are feeling, how they feel their work is going, if they have safety concerns if they are returning to the oﬃce or if they have the right set up if they are working from home.
6. Encourage all staﬀ to be mindful of their own internal states. Fear and threat can trigger reactions based upon previous experiences of trauma and loss. Recognise that all staﬀ will have vulnerabilities and blind spots which aﬀect their functioning at work.
7. Learn to recognise the early warning signs that could signal a deterioration in a staﬀ member’s mental health. Signs may include sudden weight gain or loss, increased irritability, appearing anxious or withdrawn, appearing tired, memory lapses, indecision, changes in their usual standard of work or other signs that they are having problems functioning. These signs are going to be tougher to spot if staﬀ are working from home so again make sure you are taking time to have those one-to-one conversations.
8. Let your staﬀ know what support is available to them inside your organisation whether it be help from a line manager, a mental health champion, a peer support group or a counsellor - in-house or otherwise.
9. Be a good role model and support your own wellbeing. This may be through regular exercise, regular breaks, keeping in touch with friends, eating a balanced diet, ensuring good sleep patterns and being mindful of alcohol intake.
10. Encourage a culture of kindness. Functioning during a crisis calls for unity. Increased stress will inevitably impact any pre-existing tensions in any organisation. Pre-existing issues can be addressed once the crisis is over but now is very much the time to forgive, put diﬀerences aside and pull together.