There’s no denying it, 2020 has been a strange year for us all.
Amongst changes and unpredictability in all areas of life, the workplace has been hit particularly hard. Remote work, increased childcare demands with unstable school schedules and inability to plan ahead, brought new challenges to our mental health and well-being.
But positive action can be taken to make the best of hard situations. Managers are striving to meet COVID-19 with positive adaptation, to keep work a place of productivity, positivity and togetherness.
Here are some tips to help managers boost employees’ well-being. The changes of 2020 need not always be negative – they can be turned into an opportunity to create or improve an open and supportive work culture.
1. Proactively ask employees how they are doing
A problem shared is a problem halved. Becoming supportive to your employees can be as simple as a Zoom call or even email to ask if there are any struggles in or around their work.
It is as important to take preventative steps as it is to address existing issues. For employees, even just knowing that there is someone to talk to if needed has a massively positive impact. Managers win long-term by encouraging staff to discuss issues as soon as they arise and by making sure that they have the support they need.
2. Ensure employees feel valued and rewarded
Recognising and rewarding the work of your employees goes a long way in boosting mindsets. It is about making everyone feel valued. Rather than assuming that good performance is the norm, make sure that positive contributions are explicitly acknowledged and successes are celebrated.
Simple praise goes a long way – and one given in front of a team can be a great boost to self-esteem and confidence.
Offering training is another productive way to reward and motivate employees.
Not only does it help develop their professional skills, which in turn benefits your organisation, but it shows them that you value and are willing to invest in their career. Embark on field-specific training or discover programmes that will boost and empower your employees, such as ExtraOrdinary Me.
3. Foster an inclusive work culture
Developing a healthy working culture can have a profoundly positive effect on the well-being of its members. A MetLife study has shown that whilst 75% of employers believe they have a ‘supportive and open work culture,’ only 47% of employees agree. This tells us that this aspect requires greater attention and development than many managers realise.
Examine the working culture and environment that your organisation offers. Are all members of your team getting equal space and opportunity to be heard? Can employees also bring concerns, or will they be written off as negative?
Become active in ensuring your organisation is an inclusive and considerate environment for all its members. Reflecting on power dynamics is a productive step to achieving this and building a workplace that is kind to people’s well-being.
4. Invest in team dynamics
Feeling part of a team and community is now more than ever vital for our mental health. It is crucial that teams remain strong, especially as the work-from-home era has brought new challenges to building and managing relationships. Let no member of your team feel alone.
Invest in team-building to create a network that your employees truly feel a part of. Teams unite and grow in team-building activities, and many are still available remotely. Take a look at ‘Surfing the Second Wave’ by Sustainability Consult or use one of many available do-it-yourself team building activities (here is a list of ideas).
Training such as ‘Collaborative Communication’ will bring your team together, and help improve the team dynamics. Good communication is especially crucial for thriving remote teams.
In addition to investing in good team spirit and relationships, create containers where difficulties can be discussed and addressed – this contributes to building a positive organisational culture of openness and honesty.
5. Break the stigma around mental health
This important step can be solved by building understanding and awareness. Provide employees with resources to understand potential struggles, and educate management on potential signs, symptoms and patterns that their team may experience, especially on burn-out.
Dedicate a day for mental health education, or create a web-space or document with useful and informative resources to be shared within your internal network. This will not only eradicate a sense of stigma or fear around the topic but will activate quick and effective methods of overcoming problems as they arise. British mental health charity Mind has some great resources, as well as some in-house and e-learning training offers to help achieve this.
In addition to the above, it is important that managers hold sessions to collaboratively assess challenges for each member of their teams individually, and brainstorm about what forms of support could help counterbalance them.
Managers’ capacity to offer tailored solutions to each staff member increases if they have the awareness of gender-specific challenges as well – in particular on how women are affected by the pandemic and how COVID-19 deepens inequalities, especially if managers aren’t attentive to this dimension. The 2020 McKinsey ‘Women in the Workplace’ study is a good place to start diving into this topic.
MetLife, ‘Mental Health: A Path to a Resilient Workforce and Business Recovery,’ https://www.metlife.com/ebtsfinwell2020