Employers are under a huge amount of scrutiny at the moment over how they manage their businesses, the return to work and the safety and wellbeing of their staff in the wake of Covid-19. They are likely to be feeling overwhelmed by the flood of advice and guidance out there, which is one reason why some have delayed their reopening date as they figure out the best approach (read more about this in our article about why bringing back customers is only part of the story).
I will talk about employee wellbeing shortly but before I do, I would like to focus for a moment on the mental preparedness of the bosses in the boardroom.
The coronavirus pandemic has triggered changes for all these leaders in terms of how their teams work, how their clients operate and how the future is likely to pan out for them and their organisation. All this is happening alongside the pressures of working from the home office, home schooling children, battling with the wi-fi and fielding enquiries from customers who are unable to pay or need to review their contracts.
As Arianna Huffington recently told the BBC, post-coronavirus leaders need to look after their own wellbeing as a priority if they are going to be able to give the necessary support to their staff in the coming weeks and months.
Arianna likened it to being on a plane and putting on your own oxygen mask or lifejacket before helping others. The first step to being a good boss is to be kind to yourself and take time to recharge. Whether that is leaving your phone downstairs overnight so you can rest properly, switching off emails after a certain time or prioritising the things you enjoy doing to relax, it is more important to do those things now than it has ever been before.
Not only will you be more energised and ready to face the significant challenges that lie ahead for your business and its people, you will also have a deeper understanding of the positive impact wellbeing can have on productivity. This is the true secret to promoting wellbeing in your organisation.
Let us turn now to the needs of your employees. However preoccupied you might be with furlough, part-time furlough, business continuity plans and supplier issues, the future of your business will depend on having a resilient team around you.
There are many ways to instil a wellbeing culture in your organisation but I am going to keep this simple. I would like to suggest that you sit down and talk to your employees, one to one, as they return to work. Find out what is happening in their lives right now. Do they have children off school or a partner who is shielding? Have they lost a relative to Covid? Are they struggling with debt? Are they worried about their job? Taking time to have a conversation with your key managers, and encouraging them to do the same with their teams, is the first and most important step to reducing anxiety and improving productivity as we emerge from this crisis.