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over 1 year ago by Helen Doughty

COVID-19 | How to look after your team's wellbeing

Video Interview

Working from our dining table, kitchen worktop or sofa is the ‘new norm’ for many employees as employers ask staff to work from home for the coming weeks or months to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

But as everyone adjusts to this new way of remote working, how should employers be taking care of the wellbeing of staff during this uncertain time? As more individuals social distance themselves and self-isolate, as recommended by the UK Government, this life of solitude can have damaging effects on the mental wellbeing of many.

For example, recent research has discovered that the initial wave of coronavirus has triggered a mental health crisis in China, with Governments around the world being told to prepare in case they experience a similar issue.

A paper in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, published by the US Government’s Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, found that the outbreak caused “generalised fear and fear-induced overreactive behaviour among the public,” which resulted in a “public mental health crisis”.

Following this research, Matthew Dickason, Global Managing Director at Hays Talent Solutions, has shared some steps that employers can follow to support their team during a crisis.

Addressing anxiety

As the environment continues to change constantly, with new developments emerging daily, being mindful about anxiety and showing support to staff is essential during this time. Dickason continued: “While events continue to unfold, one of the biggest causes of anxiety will be mixed messaging meaning frequent communication is important for any company, so employees are not left uncertain about what to do. It is imperative that a leadership team has only ‘one single source of truth’ for staff to reference in the form of a central intranet page, containing updated policies and information on things like sick leave, quarantine procedures and remote working practices.”

He added that management teams should be in constant contact with their staff to deliver updates on the impact and actions being taken, plus discussing information from health organisations and Government sites will also help to aid any anxious feelings. “Without this alignment, you risk having teams working to different assumptions and making tactical decisions,” he said.

Open communication

When an entire workforce is working remotely, feelings of isolation can quickly creep in. Putting in place open lines of communication that can be accessed frequently can help with this. Dickason advised: “To avoid the isolation that can come with working from home, especially for those not used to it, teams should be encouraged to create virtual water-cooler moments as well as their usual daily stand-ups.”

Points of contact

When in the office during a normal working day, there are plenty of people who team members will most likely know to contact regarding a certain matter. However, when working remotely this can be a different story entirely. It is vital employees know the most key people to contact on queries such as company policies, questions about leave, sickness and pay and resources to support remote working and wellbeing.

“As many businesses have had to quickly transition into remote working producing tips, tricks and advice for working from home can also help members of staff adjust to their new way of working.

Sending these out in the form of e-mails, guides and reminders on how to stay active and healthy when working from home, how to get access/make the most of collaboration tools and set up your home office for optimum productivity and well-being are just a few ways to help employees through unsettling times,” he concluded.