Since the CoronaVirus outbreak hit the UK, the way we manage employees and how we uphold a duty of care over them has changed dramatically.
As workers across the country are adapting to working from home and many others being furloughed, there are lots of challenges around businesses providing the right logistical support as well as the right emotional support for their staff.
As we tread through these unchartered waters, it can be difficult for employers and HR teams to know what direction to take, with expectations changing on an almost weekly basis.
One thing that is for certain is that the wellbeing of all employees should remain at the top of the priority list. The businesses that recognise and accommodate this will earn the loyalty of their employers for a long time to come.
So, how can we support employee wellbeing during lockdown?
- Be patient
These are uncertain and unsettling times for everyone and one of the most simple ways to support your employees is to be patient with them. If they’re new to working from home it will take time to adjust, if new processes are being implemented it’s unlikely they’ll all work efficiently the first time and the same can be said for technology. Recognising that this is a huge upheaval for everyone and alleviating the pressure of hitting typical targets will make a huge difference to your employees mental wellbeing. Allow the dust to settle, let the initial teething problems to be resolved and encourage everyone to be patient with each other, but also with themselves.
- Allow flexibility
Some employees will adapt quicker than others just like some will have more complex needs than others. It’s important to remember that this an unprecedented time and there’s no one size fits all solution for everyone. If your employee has children and is having to home school them on top of doing their day job, allow them to adapt their work schedule where possible. If another employee is in lockdown on their own and wants to video call the team once a day, encourage their team to participate. Try to be as accommodating as possible to ensure that your employees stay positive and engaged.
- Set expectations
As well as being as supportive as possible, it is still important to set expectations and guidelines for your employees to follow while working from home. These should cover their workload and tasks, agreeing on set times to keep in touch and on issues like data protection and confidentiality. Your workforce should understand the need to be discreet if they are discussing confidential or sensitive matters on the phone, particularly if other family members are in the same house. Enforcing clear expectations will protect your staff and give them a structure and purpose all of which are important to their wellbeing.
- Follow legislation
With things changing rapidly over the last few weeks it is important that HR teams stay up to date with the most recent employment legislation and communicate this clearly to employees. It can be overwhelming watching the news and with so many unreliable new sources sharing stories it can also be confusing and misleading for people so providing your workforce with simplified, concise updates that are relevant to them is a helpful way to keep them informed and discourages them from spending a significant amount of their day searching online for news that could be completely irrelevant but extremely anxiety provoking.
- Encourage creativity
Actively encourage your employees to get creative! This could mean creating something in the kitchen, learning a new hobby, drawing or painting, getting creative with their home workout or using technology creatively to interact through quizzes. Share these ideas with the wider workforce and get everyone involved. Getting creative is a great way to relax and destress and can be adapted to suit the interests of all of your employees. Sharing their creations and different ideas together over video call will reinstate that sense of community you’d normally have among your teams and will give everyone a boost.
Everyone will have good days and less good days throughout the lockdown periods due to so many different reasons. If you can be the empathetic, supportive employer who prioritises health and wellbeing at this tricky time, your workforce will be able to bounce back much faster when things go back to normal. Furthermore, they’ll remember that you put them first, above anything else in business.