According to our recent survey of HR professionals, wellbeing is the top priority for organisations for the rest of 2020. This is no surprise. While it was already a growing area of focus for companies, over the last few months looking after everyone’s wellbeing has moved front and centre. This includes multiple related areas:
- Physical wellbeing of those working on the front line during the global pandemic
- Mental wellbeing as employees try to balance busy work lives with home schooling and the general uncertainty of current times
- Financial wellbeing concerns from those on furlough, who have been made redundant or who worry about their future employment
In previous blogs I have discussed the importance of leaders and managers showing compassion and empathy. They need to spend more time than normal checking in with employees, particularly those working remotely, to understand how they are feeling and to then put in place steps to best support their team. This remains critical, and I hope leads to a more people-focused management style in the future.
Helping increase resilience
While more supportive and empathetic management has a big impact on wellbeing, clearly much of how people feel comes from within themselves. That’s why it is vital that organisations do what they can to maximise employees’ levels of resilience too.
Resilience can be defined as our ability to maintain high performance and positive wellbeing in difficult times, and to bounce back from setbacks. While our ability to do this is determined to some extent by our own personality and outlook, for instance our degree of optimism, self-confidence and adaptability, organisations can take actions to support employees and help them maintain high levels of resilience. Here are six things managers can do to build the resilience of their team:
- Engender a sense of purpose – Research shows that people who find their work meaningful and feel it makes a difference have higher levels of resilience. So make sure that your company’s purpose is clearly articulated and communicated regularly, and that employees understand how their role contributes to the success of the company, and ideally the greater good.
- Provide autonomy – Combining demanding jobs with limited control can lead to burnout. Instead, giving employees as much control as possible over how they work and achieve the end result can help them to thrive and supports greater resilience. Consider how you can build more flexibility and independent decision making into roles to enable your team members to perform at their best.
- Let employees know you care – Feeling supported and cared for by managers and other team members builds resilience. Therefore, even if things are moving slowly back to normal managers need to continue to build time into their days for conversations to check in on how people are doing.
- Keep employees informed – Employees need to know what is going on to work effectively and to feel connected to their organisation. And openness and honesty builds trust. Many leaders have done a great job of regular communication during the pandemic, and there is likely to be an expectation from employees that this continues to be central to how they work. At a time when the economy is contracting and concerns about jobs are growing, being as honest as you can will deliver reassurance and show that you value all of your people.
- Encourage collaboration – Teamwork encourages closer bonds between people which can become a source of guidance and support, as well as leading to greater innovation and creativity. Actively encourage people to collaborate and share ideas to build close and productive working relationships that increase resilience and wellbeing.
- Promote healthy behaviours – Working from home has radically changed the traditional split between work and personal life, increasing flexibility but leading to the risk that employees don’t switch off effectively. As ways of working continue to evolve it is important that employees are supported to balance their work and personal commitments, and are encouraged to take regular breaks, to unwind and to stay active.
While we may now be coming through the worst of the pandemic, the challenges it presented are far from over, with new concerns around the economy and jobs joining worries about physical health. It is impossible to predict what the future will bring, but building the resilience of your team will help to ensure that your workforce is ready and able to tackle the challenges that your organisation faces.
- By Kate Pritchard