As the UK has entered yet another period of mandatory stillness, there are some nasty little issues bubbling under the surface which are best dealt with sooner rather than later.
Let’s divide organisations firstly into three camps: those who are still operating fully from a central workspace, those who are now working entirely remotely, and those who are using a combination of the two.
No matter which group your organisation falls into, there are certain challenges that are faced across the board, even if the details vary.
If your workforce are unable to work from home due to the nature of the business, then many of your people will be concerned about the health risks of mixing with others, for example. They will also be worrying about the knock-on effect on their families, as well as how they are going to juggle childcare when they are in the office now that schools are closed again.
If your people are working remotely, they may be struggling with new technology such as video conferencing, finding a workspace at home which is free from distractions, as well as the isolation that comes with not seeing your colleagues in person.
Either way, making small tweaks to daily habits and routines is the answer when it comes to managing this stress effectively. Here are some ideas which perhaps you can utilise to improve your workforce wellbeing.
It’s no good telling your team to look after themselves if you aren’t setting a good example. Your organisation will be far more likely to listen to your advice and guidance if you are walking the walk. Where could you work on your own habits and lifestyle? How could you show your crew how much you value your own health, fitness and wellbeing? Maybe you would even benefit from hiring a coach? (I currently have a short waiting list, but let’s chat and see if we’d be a good fit for the near future - drop me a message)
There is enormous power in showing your people that you genuinely care. Don’t just go through the motions, asking the questions because you have to. Be a human. Understand that your people are people, just like you, who are facing all sorts of challenges. Some of which you’ll be aware of, others not so much. Ask how they are, put aside any distractions, and listen. At this point you don’t need to be offering advice, just hear what they are saying. Afterwards you can decide what the best course of action would be.
There are more pressing demands on your workforce right now than just their job. For example, many will have children, and those children will not be in school until after February half term at the earliest. Not only are the kids at home, but this time around the schools are required to send much more home-learning. This is currently a source of huge stress in family households, especially when the parents are attempting to work as well (trust me on this one). Allowing some flexibility in working routine, where possible, has the potential to ease some of this stress and overwhelm.
Even if a household has no children, there is a lot to be said for flexible working. Sure, there may be certain items on the daily agenda which need to be done at certain times, but many things can be done at any time of the day. Allowing your team to structure their days in their own way can have a tremendous positive effect on overall wellbeing.
A ‘fitness toolkit’ is a written document that outlines what you can actively do to improve your mental and physical fitness. It can be as simple as a bullet-point list of small actions which improve your immediate wellbeing by just 1-2%. This list should be long and comprehensive, including actions which can be taken in various scenarios. Going for a walk, listening to your favourite music, chatting with a friend, a short meditation or breathing exercise, and so on. These toolkits will empower members of your team to take practical and decisive action when they feel their wellbeing slipping. I am currently developing a downloadable fitness toolkit template which will be available soon.
Your surroundings can make or break your good habits, and they can also encourage or destroy your bad habits. The power is immense. One of the fundamental principles of my methods, both with individuals and organisations, is ‘making the good habits easy and the bad habits hard’. How could you adjust your workplace to encourage physical activity, water consumption, good eating habits, human connection, rest and recovery, and so on? If your team is working remotely, how could they make small changes to their home environment to make the actions on their fitness toolkit more automatic? This process of ‘engineering your environment’ not only makes these habits easier, but can also serve as a reminder to do the actions (and reminders are much needed, especially when first starting out).
I’m well aware of how much you’ll already have on your plate at the moment. You’ve got your own health concerns, keeping your loved ones safe, plus all the chaos going on at work. This guidance may not be actionable for you on your own, no matter how valuable you know it is. As with anything, doing half a job in-house is a false economy. Bringing in outside help, experts who know how to give your people the tools they need, is often the way to go.
There are many options out there, and it is vital to find the right fit for your company. I might not be the right fit, but then again maybe I am. If you’d like to have a chat about what I can offer, email me at [email protected], or drop me a message here on LinkedIn. You can also view some more info on my entry-level seminar at www.fitbodyfitmind.online/lunch
Whatever you decide, I hope you find the best way forward in supporting the wellbeing of your organisation. After all, your people are your greatest asset or your biggest liability.
(I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic in the comments, and please tag any HR managers or Executives who are doing their best to support their staff wellbeing during this pandemic)