We never thought we would see such days, but here we are, amidst the COVID-19 crisis, navigating through unfamiliar & unchartered territory. With offices still being closed, our homes are no longer just living places, where we come back from work to unwind & relax with our families, children, and pets. Our homes are now evolving & transforming into schools for our children & more importantly, into our FullTime Workplaces.
The New work norm calls for the intertwining of our personal and professional spaces, which most of us prefer to keep separate. Individuals now have to work remotely, from their homes, confined to limited space and with limited interaction with people. Coupled with fear and uncertainty of times, this can be challenging for most of us and can trigger feelings of isolation, anxiousness, and stress. This is impacting the mental health of people in the workforce. Maintaining the Mental Health & Safety of Employees & Workforce, thus becomes, a crucial focus for businesses in their response to this crisis.
Businesses and Leaders need to understand and acknowledge this change in the work environment of the employees and how it is impacting them and their work. Leaders play a critical role in all of this and they are crucial to creating a healthy workplace for all. They are the ones that supervise, guide, support, and influence the workforce.
So here are a few tips for Leaders and Managers, to ensure a healthy workforce and help them keep
their staff and teams, sane during these testing times –
- Be Patient, Accommodative, and Flexible. Everyone has different home environments and coping mechanisms, and most are handling changes creating from work from home demands. A few team members may take more time, than others, to adjust to this environment. It’s important
to understand everyone’s situation and give them space to get accustomed to new routines. Acknowledge the human side of you and create a psychologically safe work environment for employees.
- Talk about Mental health openly and encourage others to do the same. Create prospects for connections among team members, to help them stay engaged in these new settings, and display compassion and support to your team. Direct them to helplines or counseling if required.
- Communicate and Interact with your Team regularly. As humans, we desire social interaction. Momentous interactions help us feel valued, positive, energetic and give us a sense of support.
- Connect with Team members, individually and collectively, more often than you may have done in your normal office setting. A daily touchpoint call, video calls, weekly connects, will keep them motivated and will foster a sense of routine for them.
- Keep a few extra minutes in every call to connect with everyone on a personal level and ask them, how they are doing, how they are adapting to this new work environment & listen to each one’s response. This is a great conversation starter during group connections. Pay attention to their
tones, and if the call is a video conference, pay attention to their body language. This will help you identify those that are struggling to cope up with the current changes.
- Use more Video Communication. It is more effective. Use it to relay information & ensure that it is being understood. Also, sometimes body language speaks louder than words, and not all team members are comfortable interrupting their managers on calls.
- Keep workflow transparent and easy to follow. Give definite clear work expectations, including how and when to communicate, expected response times, project leads and due dates, on calls or in virtual meetings. These are more effective than writing long emails for information dissemination during these times. You want to avoid causing any panic and confusion within the team at work.
- Call unannounced or give a little nudge to a person if they’ve gone silent. In an office setting, we don’t really always wait for a meeting invite, to go and talk to a person, and the same can be done from home. Few unannounced calls and nudges, can help keep tabs on people, reduce
their stress and help foster that personal connection between the team.
- Keep your team Aware, Engaged, and Committed. Help them see the bigger picture and the mission of the organization.
- Regularly monitor the health of the workforce and keep a Pulse check on them. Collect employee feedback on how and what to improve or the challenges they are facing and try to act on them, to the best you can contribute to long term business success.
In times of crisis, it’s important for Leaders to uphold the company’s cultural values and transfer them into positive work strategies that will foster trust and commitment with employees. This will help create a healthy workforce, ready to adapt and deal with future work changes.