By Nic Redfern, Finance Director and Business Spokesperson, Nerd Wallet UK.
There are plenty of ways employers can keep staff spirits high during these difficult times.
COVID-19 means the majority of the UK has been forced into a new lifestyle, where working from home is the new norm. With the prospect of working remotely likely to continue through the winter months, some employees may find themselves suffering with seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which affects around two million people in the UK.
Below, Nerd Wallet has listed a few tips for employers on how they can keep spirits high during these difficult times:
1. Encouraging employees to take breaks outside:
Although the exact cause of SAD is not fully understood, many believe that it is linked to reduced exposure to sunlight. Motivate employees to work near a window or to keep their blinds or curtains open, when possible, to make their workspace feel open and bright.
Urge staff to use their lunches or breaks to go outside and get some fresh air and daylight, as walking can help raise energy levels and reduce stress.
2. Promoting healthy work-life balance:
Working from home can mean that many employees work longer hours, as leaving the office is no longer the cut-off point for work.
Encourage employees to work their contracted hours; this could be as simple as suggesting to them to put their work equipment out of sight when it’s ‘home time’.
Additional steps could include banning online meetings during lunch to encourage employees to have a proper break, or even suggesting that employees clarify their schedules via their auto signature.
3. Create safe spaces for employees to address their stress and mental health:
While employees work remotely, it can be even harder to notice the signs that someone is struggling. Mental health is a sensitive subject and it can be hard to start a conversation around it, but it’s important to normalise the topic so that staff feel empowered to share their feelings and seek support if necessary.
4. Keeping in regular contact with staff:
Go beyond a simple check-in and work-related subjects. Ask more specifically about how they are doing and what kind of support would be helpful. Use technology to maintain informal chats whilst at work or by setting up virtual events.
5. Offering flexible working policies:
Everyone’s home situation is different. Some may have to care for others, whilst others may not have a fixed workspace. Employers should be understanding and look to update current rules around flexible hours.
With the winter months looming and returning to the normal office routine unlikely until the new year for many, it is crucial employers offer additional support, as well as encourage social interactions to ensure mental wellbeing is made a key priority.