View these 8 ways to encourage your employees
Last time we shared why it’s so important to help employees build resilience, both for their own personal health and for your company’s health. Now let’s dig deeper into eight ways you can help team members plus your company thrive during this pandemic.
These eight tactics can help you curb COVID fatigue or fix burnout:
1. Start the conversation; then listen and individualize.
During this pandemic, your employees will face different challenges. Some have toddlers with them 24/7 or children being homeschooled. Some have aging or ill parents to care for. Some work from home; some are frontline employees; some must take mass transit to get to work. Some would love to take a break and get outside but are unable to do so. To help employees build resilience, first find out: How would they rank their wellbeing now vs. last February, before the coronavirus? If they’re at home, do they have the tools they need to perform to their own standards? Do they feel connected to their teammates and readily reach out when they need support or help? It they’re at the worksite, do they feel safe? Leaders and managers must learn each employee’s needs and uniquely support each person.
Effective managers are coaches whose top priority is developing and supporting each individual. Your employees need a conversation or at least an individual note that demonstrates understanding and empathy, on an on-going basis. Recognize too, that some will need contact more often than others.
You might consider a team meeting where everyone comes with ideas on how they might enhance career, social, financial, community and physical wellbeing both at work and at home, and what they’d need to do so. Discuss all ideas openly, searching for ways you could incorporate them into workplace programs and offerings, to help employees build resilience. Not only can your team provide insights on new programs, but they also can help improve current ones. As the ones who are using (or choosing not to use) what’s currently available to them, they will have useful feedback about what’s working and where there’s room to improve.
2. Create and respect boundaries
Boundaries between work and life are blurry and can be difficult to set. It’s all too easy for employees to get caught in the trap of doing “one more quick thing” before they call it a day.
Remind employees to work the same or similar schedule they did onsite. Help them set boundaries by making a hard break at the end of the day, perhaps by setting the next-day’s agenda or clearing email, suggests HR Morning. Then shut down and don’t go back to it.
Leaders also need to stick hard to the boundaries, added HR Morning. Don’t send messages or make calls to employees outside of regular hours.
A recent Chubb poll showed that employees are concerned about their jobs and financial wellbeing. That can lead to teleworking employees feeling the need to do more to impress the boss so it’s clear that they’re hard at work, even going above-and-beyond.
Managers, make your employee expectations clear so everyone performs at the right level without feeling added guilt to do more. As you review goals and objectives regularly, ask employees how they’re feeling about accomplishing their tasks or projects and if they need new or different resources.
Keep an ear open for any team member who may be taking on too much or creating unrealistic goals for themselves.
3. Emphasize results, not hours
Hand-in-hand with the need to create boundaries and not stress about taking on too much work is your managerial role that focuses on work results, not hours worked. Some people can get more done in a concentrated hour than others can get done in half a day.
Some employees need to work regular hours because they’re on call to customers. But if your team doesn’t need to be available to respond during specific hours, consider giving them some flexibility in the hours and time frame they spend at their desk, as long as they accomplish their tasks and projects.
4. Communicate often
You’ve heard it multiple times: Communicate, communicate, communicate. Don’t assume your team has the same information that you do. Often it’s an uphill battle when it comes to relaying ever-changing information. When conveying important information, do it on a phone call, followed by an email, so that there’s a much less chance of misunderstanding.
Communication can’t be all one-way. Check in with your team to see how they’re doing, clarify expectations and offer support. Ask questions. Gather feedback. And make sure you convey how much you value employees’ opinions.
Keep in frequent contact with a variety of tools – virtual meetings at least weekly, email check-ins and phone calls to see how things are and to offer resources. Even better, help employees connect with each other so they can have similar stress-relieving conversations they might have onsite.
5. Help employees build resilience with play
All work and no play makes you a dull boss. Consider some of these fun ideas from HR Morning for connecting informally:
- Host a talent show. Some companies have invited employees and their family members to share their talents in Zoom meetings. Mailroom bands perform, kids sing, CFOs tell jokes, accountants play the piano, etc.
- Get them moving. One regional Girl Scout executive got her team to walk the distance equivalent from their offices in Illinois to the organization’s birthplace in Savanna, GA. They all walked alone and tracked their individual miles until the group reached the 2,000 miles.
- Continue long-standing traditions, too. The executive team at Simple Practice carried on monthly birthday happy hours by hosting weekly virtual Friday happy hours. They also continued offering yoga and other wellness opportunities through free online tools to their homebound employees.
Create opportunities for employees to learn more about each other, including personal experiences and interests outside of work.
6. Encourage wellbeing breaks
Strongly encourage participation in wellbeing activities when setting job expectations and goals for the new year. Ask each employee: What aspects of wellbeing come naturally to you? Which are you the most successful at? And encourage them to incorporate those into their weekdays.
Remind them it’s important to take regular breaks throughout the day to refresh, reboot and stay ahead of burnout, says HR Morning. Suggest they might need to set a calendar reminder while at their desks to get up and head outside for a quick, brisk walk.
Gallup suggests your workers create a ‘Wellbeing Board of Directors’: identify at least three people at work who have had a significant impact on their wellbeing. Then have each person write a note to each “board member” describing why they’re on the list. This is a great way to recognize and encourage coworkers, while indirectly cultivating a mentoring mindset and culture.
7. Recognize & reward
More than ever, with this prolonged estrangement, employees need to feel appreciated. – perhaps even more – when they aren’t working together. In your virtual meetings, take time to recognize employees’ efforts and accomplishments. Have they experienced personal success or milestones outside of work? Ask them to share those great things, too.
8. Follow up to show you care
Prior to your one-on-one meetings, remind yourself of the wellbeing activities the team member mentioned earlier. Ask how they’re progressing toward their goals so that when appropriate, you can share their successes in a team meeting. “And always be sure to inquire about the wellbeing of family members and brainstorm how to include them in workplace wellbeing activities,” says HR Morning, because this a critical driver of improvement over time in helping employees build resilience.
Missed the two previous blogposts in this series? Read them now:
Employee wellness check during the pandemic
Learn how you can help your employees resist pandemic burnout