The festive season is upon us with a week until Christmas! While for many people this brings on much excitement and joy, for others this is not always the case, especially during a global pandemic with so many uncertainties. A lot of stress, anxiety and loneliness is on the cards, and this can play up both at home and in the workplace (whether that's the office or a home office). According to Mental Health Foundation, 14.7% of employees experience mental health problems in the workplace. Showing support and care for your employees’ wellbeing and mental health is becoming a growing responsibility of organisations.
Mental health and wellbeing is something which needs all year round consideration, however extra attention should be given at this time due to peaks in stress levels. There are so many circumstances for this - increased workload and longer hours to hit end of year deadlines, the pressure of balancing work with increased family duties, the looming end of year targets, not feeling valued – the list is endless. If one is overly stressed and anxiety is high, there will automatically be decreased commitment, engagement and motivation in the workspace.
So, what can managers and HR do to improve wellbeing in the lead up to Christmas and over the festive period and into 2021?
1. Embrace the festive spirit
Embrace the festivities and get the whole team involved, even if this is virtually. There’s so much to get involved with that can lighten the mood and make everyone feel a part of the team. This year may be different, but Christmas isn't cancelled! Why not do a tree decorating competition where employees can vote for the best decorated tree? Or how about a virtual Secret Santa, where employees post their gifts to each other anonymously and everyone opens them together virtually. Another fun way to encourage the festive spirit is to create a Festive Office Playlist whereby employees can send in their favourite songs, so everyone can listen to the same songs.
2. Offer an Employee Assistance Programme
This time of year rings alert bells for some, so offer the necessary support and guidance for your team. Whether it’s a formal Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) where employees have access to telephone / 1-1 counselling, or something less formal like having an open door policy where employees can come chat about any issues on hand confidentially, without judgement. This support can help reduce any pressures employees may be struggling with, such as financial pressures, loneliness and feeling overwhelmed.
3. Show appreciation and recognition
There’s no better time to show appreciation and say thank you to your employees for a job well done and their hard efforts, especially after all the challenges which 2020 has presented. By ending the year on a high with a happy team can be a catalyst for starting the new year with a bang. More so than ever before, employees really need this acknowledgment and appreciation, knowing they are indeed valued and important within the business. This recognition can improve motivation and mental wellbeing especially during difficult times. Organisations can give their teams either financial / non-financial rewards and give them the public recognition they deserve. It may even be a small gesture which shows personal consideration, such as a hand written thank you note or an e-Card. In addition, employers should encourage their team to do peer-to-peer recognition between colleagues and cross management levels as this will definitely boost wellbeing and encourage a more engaged, content team.
There is a huge emphasis on mindfulness in the workplace as there’s so much research done to show the positive effects such as improved decision-making and strategic thinking, boosted creativity, employee engagement and happier, less stressed teams. With a dispersed workforce, some in the office and some working from home, this may appear harder to action. So, why not get a corporate membership to a mindfulness app, such as Calm or Headspace and encourage your team to dedicate an hour a week to taking some time out? Alternatively there are numerous yoga and Pilates classes online, so you could arrange a time slot for your employees to enjoy this from the comfort of their own home, whilst taking some time out. There’s nothing better than letting the steam off with some Zen techniques to encourage your team to unwind and know it's not only about work, work, work!
5. Say no and delegate
It’s so easy to take on too much while trying to cram everything in by Christmas and the New Year. Don’t forget to delegate as you can’t be expected to do everything, or even better, learn to say no and stand your ground. Ask for help, people love lending a hand wherever needed. Remember demands at work and home can be sky-high leaving people feeling stressed, overwhelmed and unhappy, and often then feeling more unable to get anything done. This can result in real anxiety, where people often feel down and less able to cope with extended pressures.
So, is mental health a priority in your business? Has your approach changed during COVID-19 and into the festive period?
If you'd like to find out how Xexec can help your employees' wellbeing, why not get in touch today?