While new policies may help to alleviate some of the immediate practical concerns, there is a significant side-effect of the coronavirus which is far harder to legislate for – our mental health. So now, more than ever, it is important for all of us to look after our own wellbeing, says Louise Blair, head of HR at Foster Denovo/Secondsight.
The outbreak of coronavirus has presented us with a myriad of problems, from the personal to the global, from the social to the financial, leaving many of us with a feeling of uncertainty.
The government has gone some way to addressing a number of our concerns and has put in place measures to help alleviate some of the financial pressures in particular being faced by employers and employees alike; furloughing, business loans and mortgage holidays to name a few of these.
However, while new policies may help to alleviate some of the immediate practical concerns, there is a significant side-effect of the coronavirus which is far harder to legislate for – our mental health. So now, more than ever, it is important for all of us to look after our own wellbeing.
The following tips may help your employees (and you) to stay on top of their wellbeing while we cope with the changes to our daily lives that COVID-19 has temporarily introduced.
Too much information and news, speculation and misinformation can have a detrimental effect on the way we feel. As we seek answers in this confusing time, we can find ourselves gorging on too much rumour and speculation. Watching or reading the news can help to empower us with valuable knowledge and understanding of the current situation. However, it is vital that we consume news and information from trusted sources, including the government’s daily briefing or website and the NHS website.
As an employer, you should be as open as possible with your employees about the impacts of this pandemic on working life and what your plans are. Try to make it simple for your employees to find, understand and ask specific work-related questions. For example, could you direct your employees to a single point of reference, such as a wellbeing portal or intranet? If you offer a wellbeing programme, now might be an opportune moment to remind employees about the specifics of it, as access to financial wellbeing information and resources may be useful at this challenging time.
Talk about your worries
Coronavirus can cause many concerns, from health impacts on you and your family to financial implications. If you do feel worried about any aspect of coronavirus, speaking to someone can help. In addition to speaking to a trusted friend or family member, there are helplines available such as the Samaritans or Citizens Advice. If you have an employee assistance programme (EAP), remind your employees of this vital resource.
Look after yourself
At this time, it may be easy to fall into some unhealthy habits. It’s important to maintain a healthy diet, and regular exercise is also recommended. In fact, government guidelines specifically recommend regular exercise and allow us to leave home once a day, to walk, run or cycle. In addition to physical benefits, exercise also promotes mental wellbeing and can provide a welcome opportunity for some fresh air, a change of scenery and some rejuvenating time in nature.
There are also numerous tutorials and workouts being posted online that are designed to be done at home, such as the Joe Wicks workouts, or the Strictly Come Dancing dance tutorials.
Additionally, if you offer gym or health benefits through your employee benefits, it’s worth seeing how they have adapted their services, so you can remind your employees how they could make the most of these benefits from home.
For more mindful options, there are a range of relaxation techniques, such as meditation, which you may find useful online too.
Keep your connection with others
Although we may be physically distant like never before, coronavirus has been a reminder of the importance of keeping in touch with friends, family, colleagues and clients. The value of a support network and social interaction is as important as ever. Texts, e-mails, video calls, instant messaging and even a good old phone call are wonderful ways to stay in touch and reconnect.
From both a wellbeing and a business perspective, keeping in touch and maintaining positive communication is vital.
Try and maintain some form of routine
It is likely that your daily routine has been impacted during this period, and although some people can adapt their usual routine to the way they are living and working now, we can’t expect that staff and colleagues are dealing with the new situation the same way.
If you are working from home, it can be hard to create boundaries people personal and professional – and even if we manage to create them, they will sometimes be crossed. Some people like to keep to the same sort of hours they did when they were in the office, but remember that in this situation flexibility is key. Even if you do manage to follow a 9-to-5 schedule, take regular breaks and don’t forget your lunch break!
If you have time on your hands, you could plan a new daily routine. You could set aside some time to immerse yourself in an online course or learning a new skill. Keep yourself busy and use this rare free time to take on some of the tasks you’ve been putting off.
Finally, at the end of each day, try to maintain your regular sleeping pattern. The better we sleep, the better we tend to feel, and the more positively we can approach the new day.
Secondsight is a multi-award winning benefits, wellbeing and financial education specialist. We continue to work with businesses and charities during these unprecedented times and we have recently launched a holistic wellbeing hub to help employers support their employees’ financial, mental and physical wellbeing. Find out more here.
Secondsight is a trading name of Foster Denovo Limited, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.
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