Recent times have left many feeling uncertain with workers getting laid off, companies furloughing employees, or shutting their doors entirely. Americans are reporting higher rates of anxiety and depression as a result of COVID-19 as people are left wondering when, or if, things will ever go back to normal.
Now more than ever, employees need to know that their employers care about them as people and not just workers. Before you start the search for a new wellness program or initiative, you should address the state employees are currently in.
This might be the most important thing you do to gauge where your employees are and address what they really need. The rise of remote work is an answered prayer for many, but there are still those who are finding the transition difficult. You may discover that a single mom who takes care of her kids needs her mornings open because daycares are closed. Or the employee who has never worked remotely now needs a desk to work on to prevent neck issues.
Asking questions can help you get to the root of the issues your employees are facing. Creating room to address your employees’ concerns shows that you care and are willing to help.
You might be thinking, what’s the difference between asking questions and collecting feedback? Asking questions is an informal way of gauging where employees are so they can voice their thoughts and concerns. Collecting feedback is a formal process where you collect data from your employees to make informed decisions. Once you have that feedback, you can identify larger problems or needs that need to be addressed.
According to a Qualtrics study, 60% of U.S. employees reported having a way to provide feedback about their own employee experience, but only 30% said their feedback is acted upon by their employer. Don’t make the mistake of collecting feedback with no plan for what to do with the data or intent to act upon it. When workers feel like their concerns will be addressed, it instills a sense of confidence and trust that their voices will be heard and matter.
Fear only grows in silence, and when there is change, employees look to their leaders for answers. Communication is always important, but it’s especially crucial in times of uncertainty as anxiety levels tend to increase. Some leaders might want to hold off updating employees until the last minute, but that is a mistake. Neither is it smart for leaders to share all their fears and everything on their minds.
Whether they’re part-time, full-time, or furloughed, workers need to know where their position stands within your organization. Honestly is the best policy so don’t make any promises you won’t keep, guesses you can’t back up, or keep them strung along with the idea of bringing them back if you’re unclear that you can. Be empathetic but truthful and understand that often saying something is better than saying nothing until you have good news.
Speak to the health of the business and address the common concerns they may have. You can do this by conducting regular team meetings where you can update your workers and instill confidence in them to dispel fear.
Adopt a Holistic Approach
When the topic of employee wellbeing comes to mind, themes like physical and mental health come to mind. But looking at it holistically, it also involves financial, social, and even spiritual wellbeing. When adopting a strategy, it’s important to consider all aspects that contribute to the overall wellness of your employees.
Team building activities like virtual happy hours or games can address the need to feel connected in a relaxed, fun environment. Volunteering is a good way to address employees’ spiritual needs. It’s reported as good for the soul for its ability to reduce stress and decrease the risk of depression. Allowing employees to volunteer and donate their time or resources to a worthy cause can address our common desire to be a part of something greater than ourselves and feel connected.
Above all, balance is crucial, and many workers are feeling overworked with the lines between work and home becoming blurred. It’s harder to spot workers who are pulling longer hours now that many of them are working from home, so you need to keep an eye out for those at risk of burning out. Consider offering additional days off or half days to alleviate fatigue or find additional ways to help them prioritize balance at work and at home.
Whatever methods you choose to adopt, the central focus of any wellbeing initiative should be caring for your employees and providing value. Ask the right questions, gather relevant feedback, keep communication open, and consider the whole employee. This will help get you on the right path to adopting or revamping your employee wellbeing program.