In the second in our series of articles on coping with the current crisis, business author and Purple Cubed founder Jane Sunley provides 10 tips for defending employee wellbeing.
If the thought of enforced home working is sending you into a tailspin, you're not alone. In a recent survey even back when things were ‘normal', where people were choosing to work from home, one in three of them reported stress as a result of home working; double that of onsite workers.
In surveys, those working from home report struggling to ‘turn off' after work, feeling lonely and staying motivated. For industries where home working is infeasible, such as hospitality, due to closures, people are sent home anyway. The challenges increase, because they might not only be suffering pay cuts, but will also be losing a sense of purpose and the collaborative, interactive spirit of their work. Many people in social industries simply aren't naturally suited to working remotely or in enforced isolation and will need extra-special care in these challenging times.
So, what should leaders be doing to lessen the negative impacts of enforced home working and giving everyone the best possible chances of coming out of Covid-19 as mentally healthy as possible?
Be aware that whatever you're going through, your people are suffering as much as, if not more than, you are in their own way. Even if you feel like screaming, your job is to focus on acceptance, resilience, determination, adaptation and action, so you can support your people through to the other side.
It's human nature to resist change, let alone deal with something as significant as the fallout of Covid-19. You're in this together, so work together on the ‘ground' rules and best way forward and put yourself in ‘other people's shoes'.
Work out what the new priorities are and exactly how everyone will play their part. Just saying ‘work at home' without thought and direction will send many into a stress-entrenched tailspin. Be clear about what's expected, how things will work and let people know to expect updates and modifications on a daily basis.
Those who are still micro-managing will find it difficult to let go. Focus on outputs not inputs and work hard on learning to trust people to get on and do what they need to without checking in on them all the time. Remember you employ responsible adults, so expect the best of them.
Give people advice on how best to work remotely. Do as much as you can to ensure they have at least the basics of what they need to work as healthily and safely as possible.
Different people perform best at differing times and durations of working, so allow them to take advantage of the crisis by enjoying more freedom to choose how they work. Establish any ‘contact non-negotiables', ensure people can find out who's available when and then let them get on with it.
This is a biggie. Make sure that any message that goes out centrally is clear, unambiguous and consistent across the organisation. You might want to set up a central place that people can go to find out the latest information, such as on your Talent Toolbox or other dashboard.
Find ways to make sure people don't miss out of team communications and the ability to work together. You can do this by having an optional ‘daily dial-ins' at a set time and by making sure there's a forum for people to go to chat online on your comms platform. And this is an excellent time for people to dial into learning webinars and the like.
Feedback and support
It's demoralising to work hard, and no one notices, so organised report back systems so you can see when people have completed their projects and give them recognition and feedback. Also make sure people know there's support available if they need help, guidance or just to chat to a human.
Check in with your people specifically around their wellbeing and ensure they know where to go for support. Purple Cubed's new Wellbee tool makes this simple by not only enabling self-check in and diagnosis, but also providing advice and links to support, as well as enabling organisations to track the wellbeing of their people.
Bonus tip: Learn
Take advantage of being thrust into this ‘alternative existence' by observing any inadvertent benefits of leading and working differently. Take a few risks on trying things that are new or changed. Think about the lessons and how they can be used in the future.
Overall, think about what you're learning from having to do things differently and see how this can be applied in future – you might discover a few surprises…
This article first appeared on the Purple Cubed website
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