Stress is silent, have your say
While there has been a huge focus on physical health during the pandemic, and rightly so, there is another aspect of wellbeing that most people don’t think about too much. Stress. Sure we always talk about mental health in the workplace and creating a working environment that people look forward to coming to each day. But how do you achieve that during lockdown, where employees are working remotely or not at all?
These are stressful times for everyone. While as a business owner or manager you may be sitting in front of your PC catching up on admin, and trying to figure out a way to keep the business going, your employees are dealing with an entirely different form of stress.
If they have been furloughed, the small sense of security they may have first had is slowly being eroded away as the realities of implementing the system start to emerge. People who thought they qualified may not be paid. Current reports reflect that despite the furlough scheme unemployment rates are still set to rise dramatically. And for those fortunate to be able to continue working remotely, this too is a new experience that is not without its challenges. Being isolated is in itself stressful, especially for single people that live alone. For those with families there is the challenge of trying to be productive while homeschooling and still maintaining a level of sanity with everyone getting frustrated at not being able to get out.
So what can employers do to support their staff during this time
1. Communicate regularly:
The simple gesture of checking in with staff, whether by phone call, text or email, to find out if they are ok or need anything is appreciated more than you know. While there is so much fear and uncertainty, knowing that someone else cares about your well-being can be a lifeline. Just having someone to talk to, share experiences or even concerns can go a long way to reducing an individual’s stress levels.
2. Transparent strategy:
As part of the regular communication, keep staff up to date with what is happening with the business and welcome suggestions for strategies going forward. There may be some innovative ideas worth considering. It can also help give staff a sense of purpose.
3. Facilitate remote working:
If you have staff that are able to work from home, support them by helping them have what they need to work effectively. A secure internet connection, the right programs on their home PC, and access to company information or databases where relevant. Help them to understand the importance of keeping information secure and have the necessary anti-virus programs installed, as well as standard operating procedures when dealing with confidential business information.
4. Encourage learning:
Many online learning institutions have made courses available for free while lockdown is everyone’s reality. Encourage staff to take courses or conduct research in areas that are relevant to the business and can support their individual career progression.
While the uncertainty and stress are likely to endure for some time, these small things can go a long way to help maintaining a healthier and happier workforce, despite the circumstances.