2020 will forever be remembered as the year THAT CHANGED EVERYTHING
No one saw it coming, but the COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed the way we work, travel, socialise and learn. And unfortunately, there are still difficult times ahead...
Making adjustments to our daily lives to prevent the spread of the disease has been a necessary but difficult task - and we've yet to understand the long-term consequences that lockdown and self-isolation measures have had on our wellbeing.
Employers are now tasked with the challenge of creating a safe and supportive work environment that takes into consideration the emotional struggles some individuals may be going through in the aftermath of the pandemic.
Whether you've decided to continue to allow your team to work remotely, or will be returning to the office, it's essential to have plans and resources in place which will continue to support your employees during COVID-19. Let's take a look at some of the ways you can do this:
SHOW YOUR PEOPLE THAT YOU CARE
Over the past few months, we've endured a torrent of anxiety-inducing headlines. Things we normally didn't give a second thought to now hold potential dangers for our health and that of our families.
While it's hugely important for the economy and our livelihoods that business activities can continue, leaders need to take a careful and empathetic approach when the time comes to welcoming people back to work. Show your team that their safety and wellbeing is a priority – after all, your company's success is largely determined by the people who keep it going.
Provide peace of mind
Address your employees' concerns by sharing the plans you've put in place to ramp up safety and hygiene in your building. Follow the government guidelines on social distancing, double up your cleaning rota and make sure that all high contact surfaces areas are regularly disinfected. Provide the necessary PPE if it applies to your sector, and give easy accesses to cleaning stations and sanitisers.
Revise the schedule
It's important to also bring awareness to the negative effects lockdown may have had on your employees' mental wellbeing. Transitioning from weeks of isolation to a heightened level of social interaction can be overwhelming for some.
Speak to your people before asking them to return; find out if they are anxious about anything and propose solutions to help them ease back into work. Stagger work times or allow individuals to continue working remotely, either temporarily or on an ad-hoc basis until they feel confident enough to resume their regular schedule.
Help them find the balance
Encourage your employees to find that much-needed work-life balance.
Although things may be picking up the pace at work as restrictions ease off, working long and strenuous hours can just add to existing stress and anxieties. If employees are working remotely, remind them to make the most of their lunch breaks, whether it's taking a nap, tackling a DIY project or squeezing in some exercise. Encourage activities that can help them decompress and feel inspired.
For more tips on how your employees can keep their wellbeing in check when socially distancing, click here.
improve your management team's communication
Now, more than ever, communication is key.
The company culture you had, or were working towards pre-COVID-19, shouldn't be put aside now. Keeping the channels of communication open and continuing to interact with employees will help to make everyone feel included and supported.
Whether your team's back in the building or working from home, maintaining visibility and keeping up with your open-door policy is crucial.
Set up regular meetings and catch-ups with your employees so that they know you're still plugged in and interested in their progress and opinions. These meetings can be scheduled on a monthly or weekly basis, or you can encourage workers to strike up more informal conversations with management whenever they want to discuss something or share an idea.
Make communication tools such as Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Skype available to workers so that they can socialise and collaborate with one another.
While emails are quick and efficient, they can sometimes be misinterpreted. A phone or video call can humanise the interaction and help everyone to get on board to get on the same page.
Listen to feedback
Remember, communication is a two-way street. While it's super important for managers to be precise, transparent and informative when talking to employees, they have to take an equal interest in listening and acting on the feedback they get from their teams.
If you make use of an engagement platform in your organisation, you can send out surveys and questionnaires when trying to gauge your team's opinion on a proposed plan or idea.
go the extra mile...!
We've listed some of the practical steps you can take to support your employees in the current climate. But what if you could do more?
employee assistance programmes
Introducing an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) into your organisation is a fantastic option for companies who are keen to look after the health and wellbeing of their people.
Our EAP programmes offer services such as financial and legal advice, weight management, as well as counselling and mental health support that can be accessed privately at the convenience of the individual. These kinds of services can be hugely beneficial to employees who may have been affected by COVID-19 and need assistance in specific areas of their lives.
Remember that people's spouses may have lost their jobs resulting in financial stress, families may have lost loved ones, and issues around child care may have cropped up. Having access to professional advice can help your people get on their feet faster. They'll also be appreciative of the resources their employer has provided, boosting the loyalty and commitment they feel towards the company.
cycle to work schemes
If workers are worried about using public transport, why not make use a cycle to work scheme? At Sodexo, we connect our clients with the UK's most trusted bike retailers to help employees get the best bike for their commute. Cycle to work schemes also help employers save on National Insurance payments and encourage workers to incorporate exercise and healthier habits into their lifestyles.
how we can support you through covid-19
If you'd like to learn more about the initiatives and steps you can take to support your staff during these challenging times, get in touch with team. Our experts can guide you through the solutions and plans you can put in place to improve your employees wellbeing and help them to integrate back into a more familiar and comfortable rhythm. We also recommend signing up to our weekly newsletter where you'll receive regular tips and advice on how to continue supporting your employees over the coming weeks and months.