Stress Awareness Month has been held every April, since 1992 to increase public awareness about both the causes and cures for our modern stress epidemic. According to the Mental Health Foundation 74% of UK adults have felt so stressed at some point over the last year they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope. This year has been particularly difficult for a great many people and we think it’s important to discuss the effects that the pandemic and lockdown have had on the UK’s workforce.
The covid epidemic has had a profound effect on many; people have lost jobs and loved ones in what has been an unprecedented set of circumstances; perhaps the worst in modern history. It’s no surprise to learn that levels of anxiety and mental health struggles are at an all-time high.
As a business, supporting employees through these times is particularly challenging, especially when staff are working from home or furloughed. But one year on from the first lockdown, we think it’s time to take stock and re-assess how we can support our people in the most effective way possible. Here are a few tips we’ve learned along the way…
Check in with your employees regularly
Even if this means a 10-minute phone/video call once a week, it’s imperative to check in regularly with your employees. This may sound difficult especially if you are juggling a dissipated workforce from home but it’s important to speak to your staff about how they are coping emotionally, not just with their workload.
There are many resources that you can utilise and provide to your workforce. For example, the NHS have provided some advice with regards to looking after well-being from home. Check out www.nhsemployers.org for a wealth of information and guidance on how employers can best support their people.
Restore good news
Staying glued to the news and social media, especially when the news is full of negativity, can contribute to stress. While it’s important to keep abreast of what’s going on in the world, encouraging employees to limit time talking about the pandemic in meetings can be helpful. At UGP, we developed an internal “teams” group and actively encourage people across the business to regularly share good news, updates and give credit to colleagues – we’ve found this has helped boost morale, and it’s something we’ll keep going well after the pandemic has gone.
Allow a zoom-free day
At this point, we’re all well versed in Zoom/Teams or other video conferencing systems. After a year of online meetings replacing human contact, it’s normal for people to feel pretty drained by it. Just like in ‘ordinary times’, some meetings could be satisfied by a quick email, and whilst it’s great to speak in person, allowing staff to have a video-call free day, perhaps resorting to a traditional phone, might provide some much needed relief.
Remember to praise
Working from home has meant a lot of heads down and pushing through in order to cope with this turbulent time. Therefore, taking time out to praise staff can easily be forgotten, it might not sound like much but by sending a quick email thanking someone’s efforts or saying well done on a particular achievement will mean a lot.
Encourage a routine that includes self-care
After a year of working from home many are feeling fed up, anxious, irritable and stressed. However, maintaining a routine that also promotes learning is crucial. Continuous development is still possible during a lock-down by even using free resources. Help your employees to draft a daily/weekly routine that sets specific learning time aside, includes regular breaks, a check-in meeting and communicating with co-workers. Don’t forget to also encourage self-care outside of working hours, again there are lots of resources on this which include advice on regular exercising, eating well and doing something that makes the individual feel good, this could be anything from gardening to drawing to watching films. As part of this self-care plenty of rest and sleep should be promoted.
Providing a re-introduction
If employees are needed in the workplace, those who started work for the organisation in the time immediately prior to (or even during) lockdown may need a re-induction into the workplace to help them feel connected and engaged. Additionally, walking all employees returning to the workplace through any health and safety changes such as one-way systems, social distancing and hand sanitiser stations is highly advised.
As the government’s roadmap to normality is rolled out and we look towards the future, UGP can help relieve some of the stresses that businesses are facing upon returning to work. By using our dedicated Account Managers to research and manage your energy portfolio for you as well as handle the entire end-to-end switching process for you, we’ll help you save money and time.
As the only “commercial-only” energy provider in the UK to boast a 5-star TrustPilot rating https://uk.trustpilot.com/review/ugp.co.uk, we also supply 100% renewable power at no additional cost. Call us on 0844 318 0044 or click here to request a call-back at a time convenient for yourself.