Promoting Employee Wellness During Times of Change

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has touched all our lives in some way, both personally and professionally which is why employee wellness during times of change is so essential. Businesses across the country are having to make difficult decisions to keep their doors open, from reducing work hours to moving employees to a work-from-home basis. For most, these changes were sudden and unexpected – and adapting to the new normal, however temporary, will require some adjustment.

In times of uncertainty, it’s important for employers to provide the resources and guidance their workers need to stay healthy, safe and productive. According to a recent survey conducted by Gartner, roughly 88% of organizations have introduced work-from-home provisions to reduce the risk of widespread infection. For many employees, this will be the first time they’ve had to work remotely and adjusting to a new environment – even one from home can be challenging.

To assist your workforce with a successful transition, we’ve assembled tips on ways to promote employee wellness during times of change to enhance their happiness and productivity as they work from home or remain on-site.

Ways to Promote Employee Health and Wellness

Communication is Key

Keeping an open line of communication between executives, managers and employees is essential to the stability of your operations, especially during challenging times. Workers will be looking to business leaders to take action and set the tone for the weeks ahead. As such, all communications should be clear and confident, and managers should do their best to prioritize employee health and safety at all times. This includes posting regular updates about company operations and sharing ways for employees to stay healthy.

Peer-to-peer communication is also paramount, as it fosters a culture of compassion and collaboration while employees are working remotely. The World Health Organization’s (WHO) advice for social distancing has compelled many to spend more time indoors away from family, friends and coworkers. While this approach may reduce the spread of infection, it could also create an emotional distance between employees while they are self-isolating. To overcome this challenge, businesses should encourage workers to use digital communication tools and channels to stay in contact with their peers until the outbreak is over and employees return back to their regular workplaces.

Motivating Remote Employees

There are several ways managers can keep employees working from home connected to their workday responsibilities, coworkers and even their sense of purpose to increase productivity and engagement. As noted in a recent article from Harvard Business Review, ways managers can support remote employees include:

  • Asking for employee feedback
  • Establishing structured weekly and daily check-ins
  • Offering encouragement and emotional support
  • Providing several communication technology options
  • Setting clear expectations for objectives and company goals

Taking steps like the ones above help employees remain connected and feel supported. Now more than ever, it’s essential to support employees with a structured environment and offer proactive support when productivity issues arise. For example, by setting up daily check-ins and weekly calls, managers can get a better sense of the specific challenges their staff members are facing. Using this information, business leaders can then develop real solutions that will have a positive impact on the lives of employees.

Even when a clear solution isn’t immediately available, management can still provide meaningful emotional support and encouragement. Something as simple as listening to workers talk about their anxieties cannot only help you understand specific frustrations, it also demonstrates your organization’s commitment to your employees’ overall well-being.

Supporting Health and Wellness

One of the best ways to support your employees during COVID-19 is to remind them about your existing health and wellness programs. With so many people spending their time indoors, many are not getting the physical activity they need to maintain their long-term health. Of course, if encouraging workers to go for a run, take a stroll on a nature trail or visit a gym isn’t feasible, employers may need to get creative. Keep in mind, during times of increased stress, your employees’ mental health should be a top priority, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The following are a few recommendations from the CDC for workers coping with the ongoing pandemic:

  • Stay physically active: Nutrition, exercise and sleep are not only essential for maintaining your physical well-being, they are also important for protecting your mental health. Additionally, individuals should be encouraged to avoid alcohol, tobacco and other substances that may compromise their immune systems. For specific tips on staying active during COVID-19, check out the World Health Organization’s (WHO) online resources.
  • Take breaks: While a strong work ethic is commendable, spending hours sitting in front of a computer can impact your employees’ health and productivity. According to the Mayo Clinic, employees should take a break from sitting at least every 30 minutes or switch to a standing desk, if possible. For workplace ergonomics tips, click to view this post to make working from home more comfortable and productive.

Professional Development and Online Training

The daily lives of most workers have been dramatically impacted, from fewer business leads to disrupted workflows, and your employees may find themselves with unfilled time in their workday schedules. Employers can use this opportunity to promote in-house or online training and professional development resources. For example, encouraging employees to take online safety training courses or pursue industry certifications during their downtime may keep them engaged with your company safety programs and their professional goals. This is not only improves employee engagement, it can also expand the skill sets of your top performers, leading to better outcomes for your business and customers.

FFVA Mutual offers a wide selection of online resources and virtual training courses at no cost to our agents and policyholders, including safety short talks, and webcasts on trending topics. While our in-person safety events have been postponed until the COVID-19 outbreak passes, we are offering our agents and policyholders free online training courses. Taught by FFVA Mutual’s safety consultants, attendees can learn about proper forklift operation, ladder safety, hazard communications and even defensive driving techniques. For a full list of our virtual training courses for individuals or small groups, complete this brief online safety training request form.

While social distancing is in place and until the outbreak subsides, we’ll be posting regular updates to this COVID-19 page on our website with resources from OSHA, NCCI, national health organizations and government agencies to support your day-to-day operations and help your employees stay safe and healthy. To reach one of our workers’ comp Solutionists, visit our Contact Us page.