It’s a strange time we find ourselves in at the moment with COVID-19 impacting the nation. Like most of us, you are probably now working from home.
While the thought of being able to work from the comfort of our own homes would once have left employees rejoicing, not knowing how long this will continue, teamed with the obvious worry of the pandemic itself and being unable to see family, friends and struggling with a basic food shop, mental health can quickly deteriorate.
While Coronavirus may have already impacted your business, through lost revenue or man-hours, it can be easy to forget about an employee's mental health whilst doing everything you can to keep the business afloat. Remember, happy employees are integral to the success of your business.
Cezanne HR, a company that offers cloud HR software have created their 5 best tips on how companies can remotely support their employees during the COVID-19 outbreak.
You probably had procedures set in place to help any staff members who were struggling with their mental health but we are in new territory and most businesses would not have prepared themselves for dealing with COVID-19 and mental health.
Your Monday morning meetings may have once been formal occasions but now they are probably hosted from the comfort of your own home via video call.
Don’t expect your employees to wear suits and business attire. It is most likely your employees will be wanting to appear presentable for everyone to see on camera anyway, but it is also important that they feel comfortable.
Unless they are joining a video call with a client who will expect business dress, allow t-shirts and casual trousers if they want to. Hoodies and leggings should no longer be considered as a ‘no go’.
Everyone is now at home with their pets and kids, so you’ll likely see a guest appearance from them during a video conference. While this can be distracting, it can give us all some much needed comic relief, who doesn’t want to see the sweet face of a dog or a cheeky toddler?
Say hello, invite them to join for a few minutes. Kids will quickly become bored with the ‘grown-up’ office chat and leave so it won’t impede on your call too much anyway. This will allow kids to not feel left out while their parents are having to work around them. Most kids are more bored than ever nowadays and they are missing their friends, let them come and make friends with the team!
Making the transition to working from home may be harder for some staff members. Childcare and looking after vulnerable family members can quickly take up a lot of our time.
While your office hours may have previously been 9-5, not all of us can now follow this. Don’t expect staff to be at their computers all the time, they may have to take longer lunch breaks to make the kids’ lunch or leave early to deliver food to a parent or vulnerable friend.
Even if staff are not having to care for others, mental health can quickly deteriorate whilst we are stuck indoors. They may need to take a break to exercise once a day and follow the government guidelines, especially if they don’t have a garden. Getting this fresh air is crucial to keeping our spirits up.
Make it clear how many work hours are expected and, where possible, allow staff to choose when they do work. Remember that as we all adjust, many will struggle to fill a full eight hours so set realistic targets and don’t overwork your workforce. You wouldn’t want to cause anxiety previously and as these levels are heightened during the pandemic, make sure you don’t add to this.
If you didn’t use a cloud-based management system before quarantine, there isn’t a better time to invest in one.
Emails can quickly become messy and unorganised and keeping up with workloads for everyone within the company can easily become arduous, especially as it isn’t so easy to talk to each other in passing.
Using online HR systems can help you keep track of everything in one place and gives staff a convenient and concise method of communicating how projects and tasks are coming along and at what stage they are at.
Especially when allowing flexible working hours. Instead of having to wait for answers when chasing, you can quickly see how everything is coming along.
It is also a good chance to see if certain members are struggling as you may see their progress is not as efficient as it once previously was. You can use this to check on with them and offer support where needed.
The British are great at suffering in silence and will not always admit when they are not coping, using technology to track this will provide better results when looking for those who need help.
Communication is the best tool we can have at this time and you should make use of modern technology to check on everyone.
While we understand there is work to be done, it is important to have a catchup with others about how they are doing personally. As a manager, social relationships may not have always been on the top of our priority list but it is certainly important to make time for it.
Especially for those who live alone, being allowed to talk to someone throughout the day, even if it is about something trivial, can improve mental wellbeing. Humans need social interaction and some of us are lacking this basic need at the moment.
At the same time, make sure you update employees about all manner of the business. It’s easy to be working hard in the background to come up with solutions during the lockdown, but without keeping everyone in the loop, it could seem as though not much is going on.
If they are putting in every effort to protect your business, you should be showing you are doing the same to protect them.
Those little perks that keep staff motivated in the office are over for now. Treats in the kitchen or Friday afternoons in the pub will have to wait.
This doesn’t mean perks should stop, small things can make a huge impact on our days, especially now we have very little excitement in our daily lives.
If resources allow, see if you can have food packages delivered to staff periodically. With many essentials hard to come by and increasing anxiety of having to visit supermarkets and putting our health at risk, not to mention the long queues to ensure social distancing, you can ease the burden of something that was once easy.
It may be a case of replacing the payday pizza with a small delivery pizza to the home address. Let’s be honest, who wouldn’t want free pizza delivered to their doorstep?
While you will have provided office equipment in your offices, such as chairs and desks, many of us don’t have access to these at home. It is important that all staff members have a comfortable place to sit and work.
While it may be hard to find the right furniture for each individual as needs will vary depending on their home, why not allow them to claim back on expenses.
The main thing is to remember that we are all in the same boat, but some may not be coping as well as others. While some staff members might thrive while working from home, others may struggle and this is no reflection of their work ethic or ability.
If you are concerned about an employee, reach out and give them the chance to speak privately to you so you can see how best you can help, you’ll be amazed at the difference a friendly ear can make to one person.
Always be truthful with your staff, if there are elements of the business that are struggling let them know, they may have ideas that can help. Similarly, if something is going well, make sure you communicate this, we have to take all the good news we can.