With the UK now entering another full lockdown this month, many employees are feeling anxious about the next few weeks ahead and how they will cope.
Since most offices are having to remain closed and employees are conducting their roles remotely, businesses are presented with a challenge in how they can ensure they are providing practical support for their employees from such a distance.
After navigating through the past few months, business leaders now face a new hurdle in supporting their team as they deal with the worry of how they will spend their Christmas along with the extended period of working from home they are now facing.
To help businesses through this time, Sam Hill, Head of People and Culture at BizSpace will discuss 5 ways to support your employee’s wellbeing during a winter lockdown:
1. Lean on the technology at your fingertips
It is easy for employees to lose the communication they had with other team members when they are remote working which can leave many feeling isolated. Employees are not able to casually see their colleagues in the kitchen to chat about their weekend or any television shows they are watching, with all this now needing to be done remotely via chat, a phone call or video conferencing.
To aid employees in maintaining this communication with their colleagues, business leaders should encourage their teams to interact virtually. Team meetings and daily chats can still take place, with video calls working perfectly for this. Video calls allow teams to communicate verbally and also give the added benefit of physical cues which you would otherwise witness in person, thus giving employees the opportunity to catch up with their team and feel connected to one another.
2. Listen to what your employees need
In order to support your employees as they work remotely, you must first have an understanding of what your team needs from you. Employee mental health can suffer from the loneliness which arises with working from home when you are used to working in an office environment. Business leaders must understand how their team feels and what they require before adapting to suit this.
Some employees may want to work independently whilst they are working remotely and may feel pressured if they have management constantly checking up on them. For others, they may be the complete opposite and want this extra support where they prefer to have tasks delegated to them on a regular basis. By understanding what it is your team requires, you will be able to best support their way of working and wellbeing during this time.
3. Encourage your team to work together
With employees unable to work together physically in person, those who are struggling with a task can often find it difficult to raise this with other team members because of the distance. For businesses, this can mean a significant drop in employee productivity and wellbeing if members of a team feel unable to sufficiently complete their job role.
To resolve this, business leaders should encourage teamwork within their business to allow employees the opportunity to resolve issues together and meet their deadlines in a more efficient manner. At first, management may need to schedule these meetings officially but over time, employees will build a natural rapport where they feel comfortable reaching out online to their colleagues to ask for advice.
4. Consider investing in professional support
If in a position to offer this, business leaders should consider whether they can offer workplace counselling to their employees during the pandemic. This often acts as a sounding board for employees where they have a safe space to talk about anything which is troubling them, with workplace counsellors having a specialist viewpoint and skillet to manage this.
Some employers choose to recruit a workplace counsellor full time or part time, whereas others invest in an employee assistance programme (EAP), which acts as a standalone package which includes counselling support, providing a great deal of support to those employees whose wellbeing may be suffering because of the pandemic.
5. Continue to invest in social activities
Many employees began to find online social activities exhausting this year, with Zoom calls taking centre stage in the first lockdown. However, the use of social events should not be dismissed by business leaders because of the positive impact it can have on their employees’ wellbeing. For employees, these social events are a direct replacement for the drinks or lunches they would have otherwise attended.
Social events are imperative for the success of a team. They allow for teams to connect through natural conversation opportunities and bring employees together on a far more personal level. They can boost the morale of employees and instil greater sense of loyalty in employees to their employer, even whilst they are working remotely.