As we find ourselves deep into the third lockdown of the coronavirus pandemic with no end date in sight, it’s so important to continue to be there for your employees, and to consider the most effective ways you can support them.
Gone are the optimistic platitudes of the first lockdown, mindfulness won’t cut it anymore, and employees need tangible support. We’ve noted down our top tips of ways you can ensure the best for your employees…
Communication – Checking In, Not Checking Up On
How often do you accept (or even expect) “I’m fine” as a response to asking someone how they are doing? When we know that, in reality, nobody truly is ‘fine’ right now and everyone is facing new challenges each day. With lockdown, increased social isolation and home doubling up as the office, the pandemic has already had a huge impact upon employees’ mental health.
It’s vital for employers to open up the line of communication with employees and support them by understanding that we’re all human and some days may be more difficult than others. Your team need to know that when you ask them how they are doing, you’re comfortable with receiving an honest response.
If you don’t have the capacity to regularly reach out to every team member on an individual level, then we recommend implementing an ‘open inbox’ policy. Let your team know that you really do want to hear from them whenever things get a little tough and lead by example by being honest with them about the things you are finding hard as a team leader.
Regular, relaxed communication will put employees at ease and it’s a great way to provide extra motivation. Knowing they can be open and honest with their employer will only strengthen the team relationship and encourage a healthier mindset for the employee.
Parents make up a huge portion of the working population and, for almost a year now, they’ve had to balance working with looking after and home-schooling their children. A mammoth task, right?
As an employer, it is an important time to trust your employees to get the work done and allow them the flexibility to fit in the work around their busy home life. This will allow for a reduction in stress and burnout, ultimately leading to better job satisfaction and increased engagement.
Journalist and campaigner, Anna Whitehouse, (also known as Mother Pukka) has been campaigning for flexible work for parents for years now. Her blog and social channels are a great source of information for employers about what employees with family commitments actually need in terms of support at work. Right now, nobody is in the ideal working environment and employees will value employers who understand the need for flexibility during this trying time.
Encourage Regular Micro-Breaks and Rest
Whether it’s a five-minute tea break away from the laptop, or a short walk around the block, frequent breaks and time to rest are essential for both maintaining productivity and mental health. It can be easy to dive deep into work to distract ourselves from the outside world but it’s so necessary to come up to breathe every now and then.
A 2011 study by the University of Illinois found that focusing on a task for an extended period of time can decrease the ability to focus and affects performance. Lead researcher, Professor Alejandro Lleras said “brief mental breaks will aid with staying focused on your task”. We love the Pomodoro Technique which consists of setting a timer for 25 minutes of work then taking 5 minutes to stretch, breathe, step away from the laptop – anything that helps you unwind a little.
Regular micro-breaks are not only good for personal wellbeing but are an aid to workplace productivity, proven to help focus, creativity, and to develop healthier habits whilst also improving information retention. Not only will employees benefit from a step away from the screen, but breaks will also allow a higher quality of work to be produced, making it a win-win for employers.
Volunteering – Feel Good By Doing Good
Volunteering has so many benefits for not just your business, but also for the mental and physical wellbeing of your employees. Lockdown and isolation can be incredibly lonely and often leaves individuals feeling disconnected and disengaged from both work and the outside world. Poor mental health at work is at an all time high, and can lead to reduced engagement and motivation.
Volunteering provides an excellent opportunity for employees to feel good about doing good, with the potential to increase employee productivity, and improve team skills and company loyalty. It allows the chance to learn new skills and network with like-minded individuals to create connections that can be beneficial in both personal and working life.
It only takes a small action to brighten up someone’s day and it also provides something new to talk about on the next Zoom call. What’s not to love?
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
Corporate social responsibility is now pretty vital for a company’s reputation and for attracting the best talent. Employees want to feel proud of where they work, and customers want to know that their money is supporting ethical business.
A strong CSR strategy can do as much to support employee wellbeing as it can to support the community, environment, and social issues.
Fostering a supportive, inclusive and flexible working environment is absolutely necessary to get you and your team through the rest of this lockdown. By encouraging a healthy and happy working environment and really listening to the needs of your team, your employees will thank you with higher standards of work and company loyalty. Who wouldn’t want to work for a company that looks after its employees in the good times and the bad?
If you want to learn more about supporting your team’s goals and wellbeing through employee volunteering, then please get in touch with us or join our mailing list to receive monthly tips and insight on how to lead your team with purpose.
Written by Cecily Raine