Prioritizing the Well-Being of Your Employees in the New Work Reality

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Smriti Rajan comes from a political science and literature background, having an immense passion for writing across varied topics. She has written several articles and blogs for diverse audiences worldwide. She has produced several research publications, policy frameworks, and opinion pieces for think tanks, government institutions and corporates. Alongside this, she writes for a large Fortune 500 clientele and is a key contributing writer for Wikistrat on their EMEA desk. Currently, she resides in India.

COVID-19 is posing new and unique challenges. Our daily routines are disrupted causing anxiety, stress, and physical and mental strain. Working from home requires focus and planning in order to stay mentally and physically healthy and productive.

It is a worthwhile investment to promote employee wellness. Businesses should consider the following tips to support their employees’ health.

General Practices

  1. Encourage online training: employees can sharpen their skills by training online. It also offers a distraction to concentrate on learning rather than think about other problems.
  2. Exercise and stay active: Exercising improves both physical and mental health.  Periodically, get up and move around your home. Walking helps to alleviate stress and secrete endorphins. Many gyms offer free workout live streaming and provide app-based workouts.
  3. Stay informed: It’s good to stay updated on the progress being made in fighting the virus. Keep updated about the latest alerts from credible outlets such as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
  4. Limit media consumption: Avoid continuous exposure to news, media, and social media. They can cause anxiety, tension, or panic. Stay informed by following few, reliable resources.
  5. Set boundaries on work schedule: it is necessary to work for reasonable hours. Working for a long time can be taxing on health and well-being.
  6. Distract and redirect: Take part in events that will help your well-being, bring you pleasure, and distract you from current challenges. This includes meditation, yoga, journaling, cooking, breathing exercises, or listening to a calming podcast or music.

Quick Tips for Managers in Supporting Employees

Recognize employee concerns and show empathy

Working alone from home can make people feel isolated, making it more important to check in with workers on a regular basis, to see how they do it. Loneliness can lead to depression and other mental health problems. Understand that workers are likely to feel depressed and nervous about the circumstances of the virus. Make yourself available to speak about anxiety, answer questions, and inform them about their job.

Remote work does not mean nonstop work

While remote work also carries the stigma or concern that employees will lose power if they are not carefully watched in an in-person office setting, the opposite can also be true especially for those who are not working in remote work. Workers could quickly get into the practice of using the time they save on their daily trip to log in early and log out late to work right through time while they normally have a coffee or lunch break. 

Although managers may welcome improved efficiency, this trend cannot continue indefinitely, and workers may flame out on a schedule like this quite easily. Therefore, managers need to encourage staff to take breaks throughout the day.

Offer wellness resources

There are a lot of digital resources available to support workers through this hectic period. To raise company morale, consider using Zoom for more than just meetings— and plan your own interactive happy hour after work! This will be a nice experience to help people get away from work and get back together virtually. 

Also, businesses can provide resources to help workers protect and improve their mental health. Consider the advantages of mindfulness programs to improve employee well-being. A popular choice is Headspace—a mindfulness, and meditation mobile application. The app includes hundreds of guided meditations focused on different subjects, including stress, sleep, focus, and anxiety. Moreover, encourage stress relievers, such as having fresh air or reminding them of some sort of simulated exercise courses that could be helpful. 

Communicate and check-in regularly

Communication is one of the most crucial facets of any well-organized organization  Although managers should reach their workers on a daily basis, they should also be conscious that they are not actively micromanaging their activities. 

In difficult situations, it is important to have a strategy in place for how you interact with your staff. You need to have a way to update your employees on any Coronavirus updates that impact your business processes and work schedules. Therefore, by posting regular updates, you may facilitate conversation among co-workers. This will help everyone feel motivated and less isolated.

In addition, propose setting fitness challenges to encourage the well-being of workers. Encourage staff to share photos, videos, and experiences in order to build a sense of belonging and improve engagement. 

Consider asking employees to share healthy recipes as well as work-life balance and wellness tips. You can also post a constructive self-care reminder at the beginning of the week to help workers remain creative, engaged, and healthy. Businesses should broaden their communication networks to promote the well-being of workers.

 Prevent employee burnout and establish guidelines 

One major challenge many professionals face when they work from home is burnout due to extended working hours. This usually happens when employees struggle to separate their working life from their personal life, which can be tricky when a bedroom or a dining room becomes an office space. Employees can be stuck to their systems at all hours of the day to keep on top of the work updates. Therefore, it is important to encourage employees to step away from burnout. Sometimes the solution might be as simple as talking. There are several ways to help eliminate burnout, so ask your employees what they need from you to help improve their productivity.

Also, businesses should implement guidelines to mitigate employee burnout in a remote work environment. Set designated work hours, schedule breaks, and implement flex-time to help employees adapt to a remote environment. 

Invest in employee health programs 

Businesses should invest in the well-being of workers in order to remain productive during difficult situations.  By providing holistic health services across digital channels, you can empower staff to take care of their well-being. 

You should diversify the use of corporate-wide networking to facilitate wellness-related socialization. Implement recommendations to help workers maintain a sustainable work-life balance remotely. 

Limit travel as much as possible

Your employees deserve to know that you are making their health and wellbeing a priority, but do not ask employees to hold in-person meetings.  Hence, it is advisable to cancel physical meetings and other work events. Also, encourage workers to postpone work travel for at least the next few months.

Finally, celebrate!

Remember to stop and celebrate even the small victories. It may take a toll on your employees to keep working hard and feel like no one notices one’s efforts. That’s why it’s important to show them your appreciation and gratitude on a regular basis. Broadcast weekly achievements or shout-outs to highlight your employees’ work, and any other accomplishments. Also, don’t forget to celebrate birthdays, work anniversaries, and personal events.  As you work closely with your employees, don’t forget to encourage them to succeed. 

In this journey, be patient, understanding, and flexible as you and your staff work to navigate the current work reality and embrace a new normal.

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