2021 has perhaps not begun in the way that many of us would have hoped for. Despite the promising vaccine rollout, we are still in lockdown and there continues to be a sense of uncertainty about when normality will resume, particularly when it comes to the workplace.
So what can we, as employers, do to quell the nerves and anxiety that persist through our workforce? How can we keep spirits high when we aren’t entirely sure what may come next?
There’s never been a better time to invest in workplace wellbeing, and here’s why.
Narrowing down a broad definition
We’re constantly warned of what happens when we neglect our physical and mental wellbeing, but how often is that followed up with practical and realistic ways to combat dips in our overall health, especially in the context of work. For many of us, we corelate wellbeing with fitness or mindfulness. But many of us fail to approach this in a consistent way—we go for an occasional run, we do a one-off meditation session or unwind with colleagues at the end of a difficult week.
But really what it boils down to is building and maintaining a happy and fulfilled life.
So how does work factor into this? As charity workers, we face difficult situations every day. We work directly with vulnerable people and often have to grit our teeth through heart-breaking situations and continue to fight for what’s right without becoming an emotional mess. Add to that a global pandemic, and you’ve got a dangerous cocktail of anxiety, stress, depression and even fear.
That’s why it’s so important for us to look after our employees. Their work is valuable to us and we need to celebrate that, even when times are hard.
If you want to support your staff, you need to be flexible and be aware of what they’re feeling. Here are 5 great ways to support your employees’ wellbeing during uncertain times.
1. Learn to be more flexible
Unfortunately, the new year has brought with it another round of school closures, which means that many parents are having to juggle work and home-schooling their children once again. This leads to added stress, particularly when it comes to attending work meetings. Any flexibility that you can allow in this domain will be much appreciated by your colleagues. If they’re not an active participant of a meeting, you might think about recording it for them, so that they can listen back at a more convenient time. Alternatively, ask open questions about the best time to meet.
3. Be aware of the silent sufferers
If you have a hunch that a team member might be struggling, ask them if you can offer support. You might have colleagues who outwardly appear fine and even dismiss their problems, saying that others have it harder. But in reality they themselves might be suffering from loneliness, isolation or a range of other negative emotions. In order to offer adequate support, some employers have taken the approach of tracking employee wellbeing and you might consider using an app such as Wellspace to do so.
4. Communicate more than usual
Linked to the above, make sure that you are regularly communicating with your team to ensure that they are on the right track with projects. There are several online project management tools which will support you in tracking progress and ensuring that everyone is aware of their responsibilities, including Asana, Trello and Monday.com. In addition, make sure that you are meeting with the whole team at least once a week and checking in regularly with your direct reports if you’re a team leader.
5. Offer access to further mental health support if needed
The WHO has stressed that in order to fully support employee wellbeing, employers should make staff aware of all the resources available to them to support their mental and physical health. So if your charity has links to a counselling service, make sure that all employees know how to access it. If not, encourage them to seek guidance from their GP and stress that you will do everything you can to support them from a work perspective to enable them to access the support they need.
Flexibility and understanding are key
It goes without saying that employees who are well-supported will also be happier and more productive, so it’s worth taking the time to ensure that you’re doing all the right things. And why not ask your own team the question—what more can we do to support you at work during this time of uncertainty? You’re likely to get some honest and helpful insight.
Got any other questions or thoughts about effectively supporting staff wellbeing in your charity? Get in touch with us today.