The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is unprecedented and has affected everyone with new social distancing and isolation measures worldwide having significant impacts on our daily lives. With so many people facing uncertainty in their personal and professional lives, workers are going to need more support than ever before from their employers and industries.
For businesses it is critical that their people remain resilient and productive as it’s likely to be the only way for the company to survive this challenging time. Once the initial shock wears off, work may provide a welcome distraction for people who are worried about the virus and their loved ones. Helping keep employees safe and healthy where possible will go a long way towards keeping them calm and productive while they navigate a new (temporary) normal.
Despite the uncertainty, there are strategies that can help teams remain resilient in times of crisis and provide the support they need:
1. Remind them that help is always available
It’s important to consider the human element of supporting your workers. Most of us are social creatures; removing most of our social interactions will significantly impact employee wellbeing. This will be especially pronounced for workers that live alone, as they are now working and living in isolation.
Ensure that your team knows where and how they can access support. If you currently enlist the services of an Employee Assistance Provider (EAP), now is an important time to remind staff of their entitlements including how and where they can access this critical service. Consider sending out a reminder email with contact information for your company’s EAP, or even including the logo and contact number in internal email signatures. This can serve as a timely reminder to everyone that help is available.
For many workers, this will be an important outlet for them to discuss any concerns they have over COVID-19 and the impacts it has on our society, as well as any additional feelings of anxiety or tension they may be experiencing.
2. Provide resources for improved wellbeing
Supporting your staff’s mental health is critical. There are many free resources available online and in the community that can be accessed. Consider giving your team a list of local support services, such as Lifeline or Beyond Blue, and offer to help them access these resources when and if they need them.
There are also a number of apps designed for mental health and wellbeing. Some apps, such as Headspace, Calm, and the Australian app Smiling Mind, are geared toward teaching mindfulness. Others provide more serious mental health resources including BlackDog Snapshot, ReachOut WorryTime, and Mindshift. These are a good starting point for people who aren’t comfortable with contacting a crisis line or speaking with someone in person.
Unhappy employees are generally less productive, and any negativity can spread, affecting overall morale. Encouraging staff to access resources and seek support in a time of immense uncertainty can improve their mental health and ensure that the impact is minimised across the business.
3. Keep teams in contact
No matter where your workers are, remember that they are still working hard alongside you. Keeping teams in contact will go a long way towards keeping them connected and cohesive.
Setting up regular calls for all team members to contribute to can build on existing foundations to create stronger bonds. Virtual team meetings give everyone the opportunity to discuss the challenges they’re experiencing and provides a social element that many of them will be missing in isolation.
Keep an up-to-date phone list and share this with all staff members to serve as a reminder that they can still contact teammates easily, regardless of their physical locations, to stay connected. Knowing they can call a colleague and ask for help or offer support to anyone that may be struggling can be empowering.
With new and updated information being shared by governments and the media every hour, it’s understandable that people will feel overwhelmed and anxious about the state of the world. However, people are adaptable, and any extra help will go along way in helping alleviate the stress. Providing access to resources and keeping in contact will ensure your workforce remains as resilient as possible throughout this crisis.