For most of our clients, having a workforce working from home is the new normal. No doubt you’ve already implemented the necessary policy and procedures around the logistical issues and embraced “business as usual”.
This virtual bubble that we are now existing in presents a number of challenges that can’t be found in the company manual or code of conduct. We often tell our clients that we can’t proceduralise empathy and this rings true now more than ever.
Once this outbreak and global crisis is over (and it too shall pass… eventually), your people having their head in the A-game will be as critical to your bottom line as your clients.
The ReWork team put our heads together and jotted down our tool box tips for supporting your workforce during this challenging time.
Working from home is a discipline and takes some practice.
You may have team members who’ve never had the opportunity or reason to work remotely so this would be a really big mind set shift for them. Consider giving them some constructive support on
- How to set up their workstation – perhaps an online tutorial?
- How to structure their day
- Do this from a platform of empathy and support and perhaps resist the urge to frame that in a “compliance” type communique
In addition to using conference facilities to have scheduled team meetings for business related functions, encourage social interaction. You really don’t know what challenges people are facing in their personal lives or if they’re socially isolated. Things you can do to encourage “working out loud”:
- Daily contact challenges – encourage team members to upload a photo of a virtual coffee break or shared lunch
- Schedule a team virtual lunch
- Encourage team members to upload a picture of something meaningful to them
- Friday work drinks via video conferencing (maybe keep your pants on though!)
- Virtual step challenge to encourage health and fitness during your WFH isolation period
- Encourage dialogue around what staff are doing to nourish their minds, bodies and spirits whilst working from home
We’re all in this together.
Business leader’s…… don’t be afraid to share your challenges. Be that your concern for a loved one on the essential worker front line or the additional care required to keep an elderly or health compromised family member safe. This would also include the challenges of home-schooling children and possibly dealing with the loss of income of another family member who contributes to household’s disposable income.
Acknowledging your “other hats” as a spouse / partner / child / parent / friend empowers your team to embrace the totality of their lives too. This is a very subtle green light to give your staff permission to share their stories and challenges. A problem shared can lighten what can feel like a heavy burden for some and an insurmountable challenge for others.
Kindness and empathy will be a powerful superglue of connection long after this crisis passes (and may positively impact staff retention)
Express Gratitude….. The power of thank you
We constantly see the connection between fractious industrial climates and the prevalence of incident reports and claims for work related injuries. With fears for job security on the forefront of most people’s minds, our current climate has all the potential of having all the symptoms of a toxic workplace culture without the toxic workplace!
Your teams will be undoubtedly be juggling multiple responsibilities and hats whilst also doing their part to keep your business running. Most people are at their best when they feel appreciated.
Your team (and you) may be pushing through significant emotional barriers to stay psychologically present whilst managing their work commitments.
Don’t under-estimate the power of acknowledging these challenges and efforts by simply saying thank you.
An article on the ABC website states that resilience is about much more than the ability to ‘bounce back’:
“Resilient people have strong resources and skills to manage stress and conflict as well as a good support network to help them deal with the pressures of work.
Resilience is more than coping however. Resilient people are also flexible, adapt to new and different situations, learn from experience, are optimistic and ask for help when they need it.”
If putting in measures to support physical and psychological resilience in your workplace has been on your radar of things to do, this might be a really good time to start.
Supporting a Mentally Healthy Workplace
If your organisation doesn’t have an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) in place, perhaps consider nominating some interim Contact Officers within your business so that staff have a safe space to access if they’re struggling.
All ReWork staff are accredited Mental Health First Aid Officers. Once we get to the other side of this outbreak, we strongly encourage and advocate that you might want to consider offering mental health training and education to staff within your business.
Beyond Blue has some great information on looking after your mental health during the Covid-19 outbreak and we’ve attached the link below:
Rozanne Brash is a Senior Account Manager with ReWork specialising in (work and non-work related) Injury Management, Premium and Wellbeing for clients across a diverse range of industries. http://www.rework.com.au/