How can you effectively manage your team in terms of their wellbeing and anxiety?
With ‘Freedom Day’ arriving recently, there’s been more and more talk around reopening anxiety and the pressure to return to normal, particularly in the workplace.
Leadership and HR departments have been continually challenged during the course of the last year or so, as have the teams they manage. The scale of emotional disruption and constantly changing goalposts has seen workforces pushed to their limits, with the coveted work/life balance even further out of reach.
Whilst workplace wellbeing is not a new concept, the impact of the pandemic has seen a sharp increase in leaders navigating employee mental health as a priority.
Our personal and professional lives are more blurred than ever, with kitchen tables replacing our desk and zooms replacing valuable face to face human interaction, we’ve all made sacrifices and adjustments.
As a leader, it’s vital that your team are aware that this is a topic which directly impacts them, their performance and productivity, their motivation, self worth and most importantly, their mental health.
The workplace landscape has changed dramatically, we’ve been catapulted into the shift to remote or flexible working, with many companies now making the decision to use this as an opportunity to continue operating this way.
Sudden changes have forced us to adapt quickly, which has seen many challenges from frustratingly unreliable internet connections to loneliness and isolation. It is too much to expect a team to have made drastic changes to their daily lives, and then return to business as usual.
With lockdown restrictions easing, effective management is crucial in order to adequately support your teams’ needs, with suitable guidance and reassurance being provided as well as careful planning of all possible outcomes e.g. new restrictions being introduced, health and safety, flexible working options and wellbeing support.
Most importantly, this transition, however it may look for your business, needs to be an open, two way conversation between leadership and employees, with clear and defined stages and the opportunity for collaborative and mutually beneficial approaches to be made.
Carefully plan your return to work
A considered approach to returning to the workplace will help to re-establish a motivated, happy workforce. It’s not enough to simply tell your employees how their role will develop moving forward, but involve them in that process. Engagement and real dialogue is vital to successfully adapt and help your business to thrive. Employees should feel their input into this period of change is valued, they are after all, critical to the operation of the business.
There isn’t a sector in the country which hasn’t been impacted by the pandemic, with all of us making accelerated, significant changes and without an definite end in sight. As a leadership or HR professional, there is a duty of care to the workforce in terms of safety and wellbeing. Whether that’s risk assessments, the involvement of occupational health or equipping your employees with new tools to help them effectively manage stress and anxiety.
What to consider before returning to work
Anxiety isn’t a one size fits all experience and we all cope with different situations in our own way. Lockdown has likely uncovered a reaction in you to a certain situation that you wouldn’t have expected previously, from our opinions on mask wearing to our attitude to working from home. We’ve never experienced a situation like this before and have had no ground rules to follow.
- Internal team communication e.g between OH and HR
- Identification of obstacles to effective return to work
- Planning the first day back
- Flexible working options
- Listening to and acting upon employees concerns
- Referring to employment law to ensure compliance
- Clear guidance for employees on who to discuss concerns with
- Well communicated and available support for staff to support mental health in the workplace
Workplace Wellbeing is a Top Priority
Offering support to staff should be a top priority, whether that’s through health and safety training, resilience training or regular check ins.
An inclusive and effective conversation with team members should empathise that everyone has had a different lockdown experience, some may appear to be coping on the surface but struggling behind the scenes. Take into consideration that some may have been homeschooling, furloughed and struggled financially or been impacted by the virus itself.
Where one person may feel comfortable reaching out for help or utilising support services, others may need more reassurance and encouragement of confidential and private support. Take steps to identify those at risk or those who may need further support to mitigate negative mental health impacts.
Provide your team with resources and solutions to workplace anxiety such as mindfulness techniques, stress busting exercises and training or CBT counselling as well as positive coping strategies to create a successful workplace.
How can you access this support?
The wellbeing of employees is crucial to creating a strong and stable enterprise. By building on mental resilience and stress management, our services can provide you with the tools needed to help your business thrive.
At Rapha Therapy & Training Services, we aim to provide all members of a business with complete training in resilience, stress management and wellbeing. Our services are available in person or online for those living in the UK from our base in Manchester.
To create a positive environment and safe working space for businesses, we use many different strategies in order to work on and address a number of mental health issues, find out more about our Rivers to Resilience and corporate Workshops here or book a free consultation here.
Accredited Cognitive Behaviour Therapist
Health & Wellbeing Consultant