Supporting staff wellbeing during COVID-19

A recent survey by the North East Growth Hub found a current concern for North East businesses is the effect the ongoing coronavirus pandemic is having on staff health and wellbeing.

After the easing the restrictions during summer 2020 saw many businesses return to some sort of normality, the introduction of more regional and national restrictions over the winter has forced many North East businesses to temporarily close, and the majority of others revert back to a home working model. The closure of schools has put extra pressure on employees, and business owners are concerned about the collective impact on staff health and wellbeing.

Below are some of the ways employers can help look after their employees’ physical and mental health during the coronavirus pandemic.

Communication is key

It’s essential that employees feel they can raise worries or concerns with their line managers. Arrange weekly or bi-weekly informal check-ins with staff to see how they’re getting on – both from a work and personal perspective. Good managers listen; so let your staff express any issues they might be facing at the moment.

Support more flexible working

The current national lockdown means parents are having to balance work with home schooling, and our survey has shown this is one of the major worries for employees.

Business owners and managers should encourage more flexible working – where possible – so parents can plan around home schooling commitments.

Remember home working is not for everyone

There are many people that enjoy the social aspect of an office environment and for those employees; working from home can feel quite isolating – especially if they live alone.

Remember, everyone is different and some staff members will need more support.

Staying motivated

It’s important to help employees enjoy a healthy work/life balance when working from home. Some businesses have introduced a ‘wellbeing hour’, where staff can take time during the day to have a walk, or do an activity.

You might find some staff members would welcome the idea of a ‘social hour’, where they can join colleagues on a video call to talk about things other than work.

Accept it’s challenging 

Often, one of the most stressful experiences for employees during the pandemic is feeling like they’re not able to do their job properly, or to the best of their ability.

It’s important that business owners support staff and understand home working has its challenges. Being understanding and sympathetic to the problems people are facing is key. Going back to the first point, take time to listen and you might find there are simple and effective solutions to some of the problems your team are facing.

Mental health charity, Mind, has developed a free Coronavirus and work toolkit with lots of helpful advice and guidance to support staff wellbeing during the pandemic.