How employers can support staff wellbeing in the wake of a merging of home and work

Acknowledging changes in employee wellbeing can be difficult. Being in a virtual workplace can make it even harder.

Here we provide some advice when it comes to identifying diminished wellbeing and compromised mental health in your employees.

Have meaningful conversations

Too often, conversations around mental health and wellbeing are a tick box exercise for HR, or leaders apply a blanket approach. Another example of bad practice is for line managers to send a ‘how are you coping?’ message – this can be perceived as impersonal and insincere, paying lip service rather than looking to have a meaningful conversation.

Instead, take time to have virtual daily catchups, weekly one-to-ones, or upload videos that outline your experiences and feelings as we move through the new landscape. Invite the team to share their experiences. In doing so, you help to create a collaborative environment and open the floor for authentic and meaningful conversations.

Watch out for, and act on any physical symptoms

If employees are experiencing stress or anxiety, there will be some physical symptoms that you will be able to identify. It is possible to do this even on video calls, underpinning the need for them to take place regularly.

These signs include looking tired, tense, anxious or tearful. You might also notice behavioural changes like indecision, increased sensitivity, decreased motivation or productivity or changes in mood and general demeanour.

If you notice any of the above, then it would serve your employees well to take the time to let them know that you have seen they aren’t themselves and you are here to support them through this time.

Provide access to mental health support and resources

Providing access to resources and training encourages your team to recognise signs and symptoms, which enables the business to step in and offer support in the early stages.

Senior leaders and line managers are a critical first point of contact for employees who need extra support in regards to their wellbeing. One of the most proactive strategies is to empower them with the confidence to successfully and meaningfully support their colleagues.

Sometimes employers decide to extend mental health awareness training and access to resources to the whole team. This is particularly useful for employees that do not feel comfortable talking to their line manager.

Normalise wellbeing and mental health in your company culture

Stigma still surrounds mental health and wellbeing. Normalising the talk around it helps to remove this.

One way to do this is by emphasising ‘wellbeing’ questions in daily catchups and meetings. Rather than focusing on task lists and priorities, ask questions like ‘What is your biggest challenge right now?’ or even, ‘What are you doing to look after your wellbeing and mental health?’.

By consistently asking these questions, you embed wellbeing into your company culture, but also open the conversation to offer support and solutions to demonstrate that your staff’s welfare is a priority.

This will need to be led confidently from the top-down until others feel comfortable to begin conversations around their wellbeing and mental health, creating a culture of honesty and empathy.

Let staff know it’s ok to be flexible

It’s not uncommon for staff to feel pressured to stay at their desks between their working hours, feeling a need to prove they are working. The boundaries between work and personal time are less clear when at home.

However, when working in a traditional office, part of the day involves informal conversations and team camaraderie. Stepping away from a home desk now and then to make a drink, see to children or take the opportunity to recalibrate is fine, and will even help productivity levels.

Facilitate social interaction between employees

Even with lockdown restrictions easing, it’s still inevitable that employees will experience feelings of isolation, particularly from their colleagues.

To combat this, leaders in the business should facilitate virtual socialising to ensure team relationships are nurtured and continue to thrive. Having a team ‘Happy Hour’ on a Friday afternoon, or mid-week coffee breaks and lunches will all add a sense of normality and provide a welcome break for employees working in solitude.

There is little clarity on how long restrictions will be in place. Some companies have already advised teams that they will not be returning to the office until 2021. A focus on employee wellbeing, therefore, is essential. By implementing the right technology to enable seamless communication, and equipping business leaders and senior staff with resources and training, you ensure you are supporting your team to the best of your ability.

If you require the services of HR professionals to help facilitate such processes, we can help you source the top candidates. Speak to a member of the Anne Corder team today to learn more about the ways we can help you recruit the right people.

About the Author

Anne Corder

Anne Corder

Owner

Whilst still actively handling recruitment assignments, Anne specialises in Human Resources with many years of experience in that sector. She blogs on wider recruitment issues affecting both candidates and clients, commenting and offering tips and advice to help achieve the right outcomes.