Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, employers have had to make difficult decisions regarding their staff. Whilst those eligible were able to use the government’s furlough scheme, an estimated nine million Brits have been working from home and reportedly a quarter of UK business have had no choice but to close.
For those preparing to reopen their business, it’s vital you’re able to offer the support your employees need for their return to work. Part of that will include the task of rebuilding a healthy, happy workforce.
If in the past you’ve carried out exit interviews, you can use the insight you’ve gained to put together a plan to help your workforce rebuild itself. The information gathered by ex-employees will help identify employee needs and allow you to put measures in place to support your staff after their time of either working from home or being off work completely.
What can you do to help rebuild your workforce?
Create a circle of trust
As an employer, you need to be approachable and support your employees. You need to show them you can be trusted and empathise when they share issues they may be experiencing outside work that’s affecting their work performance. Mind Charity reported that 30% of staff disagreed with the statement “I would feel able to talk openly with my line manager if I was feeling stressed”. Trust can be a valuable asset of any person that manages people and needs to be integrated within any business that wants their employees to feel supported. Especially during these uncertain times, employees need to feel comfortable being open and honest with their employer.
Showing your appreciation towards employees doesn’t have to be expensive or timely, and can be demonstrated by something as simple as a monthly reward or newsletter highlighting those employees who have gone above and beyond. Rebuilding your business after a global pandemic isn’t going to be an easy task, so showing some appreciation for your employees’ hard work will go a long way, a simple “thank you” to your employees can mean a lot. In fact, survey results show that when UK employees were asked about what would make them feel more valued in the workplace, almost half of the respondents said a simple “thank you” will suffice. Hosting an annual ‘fun day’ or party as a thank you for all your staff’s hard work or additional benefits are also ways to make your workforce feel valued and appreciated.
Show you care
No matter how stressful a job, having an employer who shows they care is a great tool that will contribute to employee happiness. An article by Business Solver looked into a study which showed 93% of employees say they’re more likely to stay with an empathetic employer. Often stress in the workplace can be brought on by unavoidable, personal issues and having someone who they can share their concerns with could help ease some of the pressure.
Provide support for workplace stress
In 2018/19 89% of UK employees suffered from ‘excessive’ stress at work. Yes, stress usually comes with any job but feeling over-stressed to the point where employees are unable to sleep, eat and think about anything else can be very unhealthy. Especially during the current climate, employees could already be tackling personal issues at home causing work-related stress to feel worse.
In this situation, it’s best to assess what’s causing the stress: unrealistic targets? Bullying? Problems at home? Workload? Once you've identified the root cause of stress in your employees, you can sit down and work together to find a solution.
Occupational health solutions such as Stress Interventions offer independent, professional support to employees. An occupational health nurse will work with the employee to help them cope with stress. They’ll also work with the employer to help reduce stress in the workplace by giving recommendations for future.
Encourage a healthy work / life balance
Especially for those with external commitments, the more time at home the better, which is why many companies have started to take on flexible working, allowing employees to work alternative hours or work from home. It's been reported that half of employees would look for a new job if their bosses do not allow flexible working after lockdown.
COVID-19 has given some employers no choice but to run their business from the homes of their employees, giving them the chance to test its success. Over the course of lockdown, experts in the business world have suggested that the future of work will change forever, and for the better.
Download our Employee Health and Wellbeing questionnaire and find out how your employees really feel.