It’s no secret that people have had enough of COVID-19 and some are reaching the end of their tether with the ongoing restrictions. So, what can businesses do to promote physical wellness over the Christmas period, within the context of the Government temporarily relaxing COVID-19 rules? And how can organisations promote mental health wellness when resilience is wearing thin? The vaccine is here and a return to some sort of ‘normal’ is hopefully on the horizon, but employees may need some extra support to get through a less than normal end-of-year holiday period.
For HR practitioners looking to increase resilience in their workforce, a course might be a good port of call. The CIPD offers ‘Building Resilience’, with an ‘in-house’ option for organisations, too. The course is described as ‘… for those looking to remain optimistic, curious and motivated under pressure, and optimise their performance at work whilst ensuring well-being.’
But courses aren’t the only solution. People’s resilience levels within an organisation will differ, perhaps due to personality type or life experience. HR could seek to harness this by identifying people who are known for their resilience and asking if they’d be willing to buddy up with people who might be struggling at the moment. For anyone suffering from loneliness, connecting with another staff member in an informal way might help with that, too.
The power of storytelling is a tool that can help build resilience, too. In ‘Three remote working lessons from the most isolated professions’ in HRZone, we explained how wildlife rangers, who often work on their own, are benefiting from ‘narrative therapies’. The article also looks at how live-in carers and long-distance truck drivers deal with isolation. Do you know of anyone in your own organisation whose life or work story embodies resilience? With their permission, sharing these kinds of experiences with your workforce will give people hints and tips for building their own resilience.
Taking a break
For most people, taking regular breaks from work is important for their wellbeing. There will always be some staff members who want to power on through the Christmas break for a variety of reasons – for example, they may not celebrate Christmas, or they may find work preferrable to holiday-season stress. But for those who do want – and need – a break this year, HR needs to encourage the business to do everything it can to accommodate their leave requests.
Unfortunately, in some organisations, leave ends up being denied due to short staffing and this puts employees who do have to work – when they really need a break – at risk of burnout. There’s no point being seen to have all hands on-deck if those hands are physically and mentally exhausted!
The other side of the coin can also be true – staff being very diligent and not asking for a break because they are afraid of leaving their teams under resourced. If you think your workforce might be at risk of this, remind your staff that it’s okay to ask for leave and that management will do what they can. Whole teams are unlikely to be able to take leave at once, but managers could come back with a staggered approach that works for everyone.
The UK is facing a difficult Christmas period, with the Government allowing people some leniency on COVID-19 rules, but leading medical advisers are saying this might be ‘rash’. If you’re concerned that your staff may be feeling confused and stressed about what to do over Christmas, it might be helpful to provide a list of reliable resources for them to consult, so hearsay and inaccurate reporting don’t cloud their decision making.
In addition to links to Government and medical sites about COVID-19, providing some suggestions for mental health support resources would also be useful. If you have an HR system, you could use a workspace to signpost people to websites like Mind, Time to Change and Together. The NHS also has a comprehensive list of organisations that people can reach out to for help.
Your workforce may also just appreciate some ideas of things they can do while ‘holidaying’ at home. Parents looking after young children would probably love some new ideas for keeping them entertained, and staff living on their own might enjoy a list of ways to stay social from their living room. You could set up a workspace on available HR systems like Cezanne HR purely for sharing these kinds of ideas, encouraging staff to get involved by telling each other what’s worked for them over the last 9 months.
If you’re wondering what else you can do to help your workforce through this December, read our recent blog: What you and your HR system can do to make December easier for your business