Dubbed as Blue Monday, today is commonly referred to as the most depressing day of the year, and can therefore be a very difficult day (or period) for your workforce / teams / individual employees. In the UK, as the cold and wet weather continues, the festive spirit is long gone, debt may be on the cards and the long wait for the next holiday seems like only a dream, especially during the pandemic, things seem bleak. This past year has had multiple compounding pressures with national lockdowns, working from home, home-schooling children and therefore, there seems to be blurred boundaries between home life and work life. Employees are feeling stressed and pressured and now should be a time where organisations need to offer extra compassion and support for their widely dispersed teams. Discover some ways to help your employees feel contained and safe, both today and going forward:
Brian Kropp, Chief of HR Research at Gartner says that organisations need to pursue radial flexibility. In 2020, both employers and employees were required to work in new ways without much / any warning. Many businesses were not used to the notion of home working, and there was a perceived notion that employees skive when working from home as there's no management keeping an eye on the work quantity plus the hours spent at a desk. With this in mind, many employees feel the need to prove themselves and be online all the time, especially when there was so much uncertainty and many feared for their jobs. This added and continues to add an additional level of strain of an employee's personal and professional life which leads to little or no work-life balance. With this in mind, companies need to reassure their employees that during these challenging times we find ourselves in, flexibility is allowed as long as the tasks get done. Employees should not feel judged for taking advantage of flexible working, but rather feel comforted knowing they are supported.
Regular clear communication with all teams is critical, especially on Blue Monday. Now more so than before, leaders and managers need to have a figurative open-door policy where employees are encouraged and feel comfortable enough to talk to their superiors about how they are feeling, how they have been impacted and their ongoing concerns. This is not business as usual but just at home. There has been a very deep-rooted psychological impact on everyone so boundaries, expectations and requirements need to be adapted and adjusted accordingly, and this needs to be communicated clearly. Communications need to be calm, clear, unambiguous and timely. It needs to answer the why's, how's and what's which employees are asking. This will create physiological safety for employees and leaders alike, as a a secure and compassionate communicative forum will put a lot of anxieties and concerns at bay.
Encourage time out
Employers need encourage both everyone within the business to take some time out. It's also business critical for managers to take the necessary time off, in order to avoid burn out and resentment. Companies should make sure their teams are taking regular breaks from their computers, not working in the evenings / on the weekends. Employees should take some leave, even though there's nowhere to go during the pandemic, but some time away from work and the stresses it brings, can do a lot for the mental health of your team. More and more businesses are offering their employees a mental health day to use, which does not come out of annual leave allocation and there's no questions asked when needing this time out. When employees feel less anxious and down, they will be productive and performance levels will soar.
Recognise, praise and thanks
All of us (employers and employees alike) need recognition, recognition that a job has been done well, or a simple thank you - this is a basic human need, especially during this hard period we're all living in. And this is even more true when working from home, or a team is not coherently working together and are dispersed. When receiving a well done or public acknowledgment in front of the team (be it on Zoom or MS Teams), there is nothing better to boost morale and make one feel valued. The ramifications of this are huge, where commitment, motivation and passion can soar. Whether you decide to recognise and reward informally, or by implementing a full scale reward and recognition programme, this is an area where time and efforts should be allocated. This has a significant impact on mental health and wellbeing.
If you’d like to know how Xexec could help your team with wellbeing benefits and perks, get in touch with one of our Engagement Specialists to discuss your bespoke requirements.