Pre-Covid it was easy to identify what we meant by the workplace, that has all changed. For a few people, it remains the traditional office environment. For many others, our workplace is much more confusing. The ‘new’ office space can be the shed, kitchen, sitting room – one colleague has had to change her bedroom to make a new office. This blog post will focus on your wellbeing strategy and gives you some suggestions to help support a teams wellbeing in the new ‘workplace’.
Firstly, do you have a wellbeing strategy? And does it meet the needs of the new way of working? Or perhaps a wellbeing strategy is a new concept. Whatever the answer, this is the time to make sure your employees’ wellbeing is at the heart of what you do. We all know happy employees equals better productivity. Therefore, this is a great time to develop or rewrite that strategy.
Why have a Wellbeing Strategy?
What is the point of a wellbeing strategy and will it make a difference? There are arguments for and against a strategy, with some employees remarking it’s ‘just a paper exercise’. However, a strategy will give you a framework that demonstrates how you want to look after your team. Further, employees will know what to expect from you. It will also help you demonstrate what actions you are taking to support the workforce. And, who wouldn’t want to work with a company that cares?
What is in a wellbeing strategy?
A wellbeing strategy needn’t be long or over-complicated. As you think about wellbeing, a useful starting point is to consider the emotional, physical and social wellbeing of your team. I find that this is a holistic approach to wellbeing. There are other examples on the internet of good strategies, for example, the CIPD offers some useful ideas of what to include.
How do your employees feel about the new ways of working? Are they happy or is the impact of working from home all day making them feel tired, stressed or claustrophobic?
If a team member feels like this, it can spill over into their behaviour at work. It can be difficult to ask an employee how they are feeling, especially when we only see them on-line. A good skill is to develop your non-verbal communication (NVC). By observing the individual you will begin to notice when they become uncomfortable or distressed. For example, when a person becomes very fidgety or flushed. The most obvious indicator is when someone cries or becomes very loud and bad-tempered. A recent article in the Training Journal explored some ideas for managing emotions online.
In the traditional office, we were aware of the environment and the ergonomics required for improving the physical wellbeing of individuals. Some questions to ask about the physical space include location, ventilation, noise levels and equipment. A person who has their computer on a coffee table will find their posture and breathing affected as they stoop forward to the keyboard. By ensuring that your wellbeing strategy focuses on physical wellbeing you will enable colleagues to take time out for walking, hydration and fresh air.
The workplace was inherently social because we mixed with others, had conversations over the water fountain and made friends with colleagues. In short, we spent more time with our work colleagues than with our family. Because the new way of working is complicated, and the boundary between home and workspace becomes muddled, our work has become less social and in some cases more functional. A way of addressing this in your strategy is building in extra time to your meetings. For example, you could add an extra 10 minutes at the beginning or end of a meeting for a chat and a coffee. This approach helps teams have the social chatter that is important for team cohesion.
Bringing it together
A wellbeing strategy can help you demonstrate leadership and care for your team. It should be easily readable and accessible to all the team. When you have a focus on your team’s wellbeing you and the team will benefit from this. Because we live in such strange times, I think that we should grab any opportunity to improve individual and collective wellbeing.
If you’d like me to discuss creating or reviewing a Wellbeing Strategy, please do get in touch.
Download my FREE Wellbeing Checklist to review the wellbeing for your team.