As this period of Covid-19 continues with no obvious end in sight small businesses and startups have a lot to contend with. Many businesses are operating in a hybrid mode with some staff back in the workplace while others remain working from home. We are all having to deal with ongoing uncertainly and it’s important to consider how this is affecting your employees.
I am not referring the medical aspect of dealing with Covid-19, but rather the mental health impact of the worry, the uncertainty and the sense of isolation that is still being caused.
In order to support your team let’s look at how you can help address some different aspects of employee wellbeing in difficult times.
People will be worrying about their jobs, especially when they hear glooming economic forecasts on the News.
One of the proven acts to alleviating stress is to have a clear, honest and regular conversation with your team members. In work you may not normally have the time or feel that it is not the company’s culture to do so. We can use this situation to our advantage and start to do thing differently.
For those working from home call them and have a chat, for those in the workplace you can have a socially distanced meeting. Put a time in your diary.
Let them air their feelings and concerns, share yours as appropriate, be straight with them about the situation and give them the reassurances you can provide with honesty. Everyone is experiencing the stress and worry and talking is a great release.
It is also good to hold team meetings regularly. A group conference call using ZOOM / SKYPE can work for this so that everyone can be involved wherever they are working. Depending on the size of your team, and any work requirements, you might hold two sessions on the same day – one about work say 11.00am and one later in the afternoon.
Give them updates on the business and let them ask questions and share any concerns they have. A problem shared is a problem halved, even more so with a group.
2. Ongoing stress
As an employer it is likely to be very much appreciated if you offer staff counselling of some kind, particularly given the long-haul nature of the stressful situation we are in. This could be with either an internal Wellbeing Officer, trained HR person or an outside Wellbeing professional.
The person chosen to provide this counselling, could for example, arrange a group conference call, sharing knowledge to a number of employees at the same time. They would be able to talk through various tools that can be used to reduce stress and anxiety, covering mindfulness techniques, sleep, rest, nutrition and how to keep calm and focus.
Corporate Away Days are partnered with Wellbeing and Mental Health professionals who can organise virtual workshops to assist your team in this area.
Whether people are working from home or commuting exercise is the best way to keep motivated and keep our mental health strong. With the nation being more stagnant, sedentary for long periods, day after day, our general health will be impacted negatively if we don’t exercise. Movement is vital for keeping us healthy.
Imagine this for yourself: you take a brisk walk or jog around your local area which you may not have discovered for some time, taking a different route every time you go out.
You could do some stretches and by laying a mat on the floor indoors or on the grass outdoors in the park. You could progress to push ups, sit ups, planks, and some form of body strengthening as well as cardio.
Diet works with Exercise: eating healthily, having fruit and vegetables and plenty of drinking water. Particularly if you work from home, avoid too much tea / coffee which will be an easy reach in your kitchen.
Share your routines and findings with colleagues, what works best for you, create another topic for self-maintenance and getting through this continuing Covid-19 period that you can discuss together.
4. Looking ahead
One of the best stress relievers is having fun and laughter. Whilst it can be difficult to look forward with confidence at the moment, as time passes we will be able to see the end of the pandemic.
By giving your team something to look forward to, something exciting, would be a perfect way to keep them motivated, inspired and create a conversation / discussion on your teams calls.
Ideally you would organise an Away Day out of the office with a wellbeing theme, an activity that is inspiring and engaging that allows individuals to reconnect and rebuild connections after a long period of isolation. But of course, with social distancing that may not be possible for the time being. This means you need to be a bit more creative!
There are events and get togethers that you can provide for your team. You know them as individuals and as a team. What kind of activities did they enjoy pre-Covid?
Perhaps they went bowling or go-karting. If they did you can find an online version that everyone can play together. There is also a wealth of board games to play online, trivia quizzes etc.
Horse racing has started again so this may be an opportunity to organise a fun day at the races via Zoom. Team members can dress up, (maybe with not-Ascot hats and a best hat competition!) and share a glass of prosecco and make a small wager to add excitement. You can even choose a race meeting abroad if the timing works better or everyone.
The key is to give people a treat. So, have a think, make some suggestions and see what gets traction. Find something that they will enjoy so they can relax and have fun while sticking to social distancing requirements.
Remember that studies show 90% of people say a fun work environment is very or extremely motivating. Teams that have fun are the teams that thrive and do best.
5. The value of saying Thank You
As a small business owner reopening your business and gradually getting people back into the workplace will have been placing many demands on you personally. This may mean that however much you appreciate your team you may not always remember to tell them and give the thanks they deserve.
When you notice someone doing something particularly well, perhaps going out of their way to help a customer or handling a social distancing issue with tact – say thank you immediately.
Perhaps you can spend a few minutes at the end of the day reviewing how the day has gone. Make a note of what went well and take time in the morning to give a round up to your team and give them a collective pat on the back. Encourage team members to add their thanks if, for example, they have received help from a colleague.
After the initial shock created by Covid-19 business owners found routines that have kept them and their businesses going. Now as we look ahead to the ongoing situation with no definite end in sight it is important to acknowledge the importance of employee wellbeing and do as much as possible to provide information and support. That way your team and your business will be healthy and thrive.
About the author
This guide has been written exclusively for ByteStart by Craig Bulow, founder of Corporate Away Days, a corporate wellbeing events company delivering engaging, inspiring and exciting events focussed on Wellbeing and Reward activities.
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