We are well into spring now and there are signs of optimism and revival. The easing of lockdown is going according to plan and so there is much to look forward to. Yet there are signs that many of us are feeling exhausted. The way we have worked over the last twelve months has had its toll. Confined to the same environment each day and surrounded by uncertainties relating to health, family and finances has meant that many people are suffering from stress on a regular basis.
You many find familiarity in this or know of someone at home or at work who is having a difficult time at the moment. There has been so much talk about wellbeing in recent times but what can be done in practical terms?
5 top tips to help your wellbeing.
A regular work routine.
Whether you are the boss or an employee, the same principle applies. Having a consistent work routine really helps. When we were working in the workplace which was not our home, we had a routine. There was a start time and there was a stop time. When this was removed, lines were blurred, the routine for many got removed and it was down to the individual themselves to be disciplined.
You need to make sure that you and the team are not overworking and stopping on time each day. It is important that everyone switches off from work mode each day so that the body and mind can recharge.
You can try arranging a group meeting after work some days where a Quiz is organised or now you can meet 5 other local colleagues for walks in the fresh air. Anything that encourages people to stop work on time most days.
Encourage regular breaks!
Taking regular breaks especially outdoors now that the weather is improving is an important part of self-care. You cannot force anyone to go for a walk or to the gym but how about saying to everyone, please take half an hour lunch break? Let us make sure there are no meetings arranged between 13.00 – 13.30 each day and the phone calls are stopped? This way people are more likely to stop and move away from their monitors during the day. Making sure everyone takes holidays (even without travelling) is also important.
Employee Assistance Programme
Having a good mentoring system where regular checks happens over phone calls, Zoom, MS Teams etc. and hopefully face to face soon is the key. This will allow anyone experiencing anxiety to speak about it and appreciate that they are being listened to. Many times, problems and issues can be picked up quickly just because you sensed some worry in the voice.
Many big organisations such as the investment houses have an in-house psychologist whose job it is to listen to the staff and their problems. The reason being it allows each member of the team to offload so that they can carry on with their work. Now we are not suggesting that you need to go that far but you could subscribe to Employee Assistance Programme which will produce similar results because your team will have access to a trained councillor. These programmes also offer other benefits such as subsidised Gym membership which will encourage physical activity which is good for stress.
There are many programmes available which are quite affordable, and the subscription is a tax-deductible expense for the business.
Allow them to say “No”
We still live in a culture at work where saying no is looked upon as a weakness when in fact it is the opposite. Having the courage to say “no” is one of the most important workplace skills which should be encouraged. Whilst you need to highlight at work that it is okay to say no to tasks when you have too much to do it is also vital to say it with grace and respect for others. Your team members can say “no” but they need to justify with reasons.
Everyone has limited bandwidth within which they can operate effectively and productively but allowing your staff to say no means that there will be opportunities to discuss prioritisation so that important tasks get done first. Again, an important skill for the workforce to master.
Encourage your staff to get involved in the local community.
Small businesses have always played an important part in local communities. Volunteering helps individuals to get a sense of self and boosts quality of life. As a business you should consider if you are able to free some time for your employees so they can go and help a local charity, school, hospice etc. These activities normally also develop skills that are important such as team building, time management, creativity, and lateral thinking. Plus you promote your business in the local area whilst helping a good cause.
We are all going to start returning to some kind of normal soon and this in itself will be a daunting prospect for many! Think about a well-planned phased return to work for your business. This could be combination of continuing to still support some work from home to actually delaying the return to the workplace for a few more weeks until everyone feels safe. Flexible arrangements can only happen with mutual agreement between employers and employees and so now is good time to start talking about it with your team.
Mind the mental health charity are an excellent source for materials on mental health at work and we would encourage you to visit their website to help you further www.mind/org.uk/workplace/.
As employers it is sometimes difficult to find someone you can confide in and share your thoughts and problems with. Whist we are not mental health experts we are here to listen to you and so you are welcome to call us, and we will be here to hear you. We know if you are business owner you have been under tremendous pressure this past year and it is okay for you not to be okay all the time as well.