The pandemic has brought on a level of social isolation we have never experienced before, many lives have changed drastically in such a short amount of time. Some have gone months without seeing friends and loved ones which can bring on feelings of anxiety and depression. Right now, it’s especially important that we look out for each other and offer support where possible. As an employer, or even just a member of a team, there are several things you can do to help your staff and ensure they have the resources needed during this uncertain time.
Scheduling regular catch-ups and encouraging socialisation
When the team is split up and everyone is working from home, one of the most important things you should do as an employer is keep everyone feeling connected to one another and their roles. At The Cluster, socialising is not only one of the most important parts of our day but also something we all love to do! Not being able to spend time with each other and our members at Friday night drinks or just around the office has been extremely difficult, so together we’ve worked really hard on keeping The Cluster spirit alive via staff meetings, one-on-ones, virtual Friday night drinks and the Cluster Community discord channel. Staff meetings and individual catch-ups ensure everyone is still discussing work but we are also being encouraged to socialise with each other regularly about anything and everything! A rotating buddy system has been implemented where each week, we are assigned a different staff member to chat to each day. It’s been lovely keeping in contact with the team and discussing things other than work or the pandemic. Recently I was paired with Nathan who got engaged – hearing that wonderful news was like a breath of fresh air!
With your employees spending most of their time out of the office, you may be capable of allowing more flexible working hours. At The Cluster, we have been allocated a certain amount of hours per week with the option of using these however we like (within reason of course). We still need to ensure we are working hours that overlap with other staff members so we can communicate effectively and where possible, we need to be available for staff and one-on-one meetings throughout the week. Flexible working hours can be extremely beneficial for your employees mental health as it provides them with the opportunity to do the life admin tasks that they may not be able to do when coming into the office each day, such as visiting a doctor or other health professional, doing their groceries or even just taking a walk. Flexibility also allows your employees to adapt to their family situations too if needed, this is especially helpful for your staff with children or loved ones who require extra support.
Providing the team with structure
It’s so easy to fall out of your usual routine when you no longer need to commute into work each day but losing the structure of your week can have a seriously negative impact on your mental health. Everything is so uncertain right now that having a routine can feel like an anchor, keeping you steady. You may not know when you’ll be able to see your friends and family again but knowing you’ll wake up at 7:00am and eat lunch at 1:00pm each day gives you a form of stability. Having a routine has been proven to reduce stress levels, it takes away the pressure of needing to plan our day on the spot and can give us a sense of control that may currently be hard to grasp. As an employer, you should ensure your team has a weekly roster with breaks and catch ups included. Keep in touch with them each day and see to it that they have enough assigned tasks with the necessary resources to complete them.
Mental Health Resources
It’s okay to admit that you’re struggling with your mental health right now. Even if you’ve never experienced any issues previously, times are tough and a pandemic is sure to bring all sorts of unwanted emotions to surface. The most important thing anyone can do when they’re struggling is reach out for help. There’s some amazing information and support you can access online or via telephone including:
Head to Health
has an amazing page full of resources such as tips for maintaining good mental health, information for parents and how to access mental health services if needed. Click on the image above to check out what they offer.
The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services
This website is packed with helpful resources such as videos and articles containing professional advice, tips for staying calm, healthy positive and connected, how to have conversations about coronavirus with children and the elderly as well as a tonne of support contacts for when you need to talk to someone.