Organisations across the country are dealing with unprecedented challenges, with almost every industry, sector and business being affected. As the threat of COVID-19 continues to persist, employers are having to navigate unchartered territory not only in terms of keeping employees safe and healthy, but also in terms of their mental wellness too.
“The truth is that no one is immune to the stress and uncertainty that this pandemic has produced and it is our job as business leaders to ensure that we do everything we can to support our employees and lead them through these extraordinary circumstances,” says Catherine Clark, Owner and Founder of the Harvest Table.
She adds that keeping up employee wellness is more essential than ever, but with work-from-home and hybrid-work strategies being the norm, it is also more challenging than ever. “Traditional employee wellness programmes that include things like fitness challenges and team builds are not only no longer possible, they also feel irrelevant. Instead, our new environment demands a far richer wellness programme; one that keeps our people safe physically and mentally.”
So, how do employers adapt current wellness programmes to include basic workplace wellness interventions, especially when budgets are tighter than ever? Catherine says that it starts with identifying what kind of support employees need and then finding creative ways to fulfil them.
Catherine shares what she believes are four pressing employee needs and offers cost effective, efficient ways to meet them:
1. The need for connection: Studies have shown that social connections are vital to improved health, wellbeing, and longevity. Aside from the uncertainty and anxiety caused by the coronavirus, the sudden shift from working in an office to working at the kitchen table has resulted in instant isolation and a deep desire to reconnect. Fulfilling this need is not as easy having weekly Zoom meetings; it takes a more deliberate approach that includes making your people feel like they are still part of a greater community. Old school personal phone calls, daily messages and online forums are all wonderful ways to keep the connection alive.
2. The need for reassurance: Faced with unprecedented job cuts, loss of income and a death toll that is accelerating daily, employees are nervous at best. And, rightfully so. It is our job to reassure them. No one is going to feel better (or be productive!) by having their concerns ignored. Let your people know that their concerns are normal and show them that you really care by offering multiple channels to talk about their concerns, whether to their manager, HR, or another external source like ICas. Whatever you do, do not assume they are okay. They’re not. Emphathise and listen!
3. The need for sanitisation: Employing the minimum guidelines set out by the Department of Labour will play a major role in preventing the spread of the coronavirus, but don’t just stop there. Go above and beyond by eliminating unnecessary meetings, offer flexible working hours, install counter shields and fit the bill for their masks! This will go a long way in showing your employees that you really care about their and their families’ safety. When you come from a place of love, your employees will feel it; same thing applies if you simply comply for compliance sake.
4. The need for education: Knowledge is power. Worry and fear grow in the absence of information. Let your employees know that they can expect regular educational updates from you. There is no such thing as overcommunication or overeducation. Use workshops and mailers to drive home key wellness messages and be mindful not to simply regurgitate information that they would’ve seen on social media or the news already. Instead, work on dispelling COVID-19 myths, offer financial and budgetary guidance or share health tips on how they can build a strong immune system through supplementation.
“COVID-19 has changed everything about how we work, including the kind of support employees need. And, since most organisations are facing severe financial constraints, safeguarding the wellness of employees without breaking the bank requires a certain level of creativity and care. The great news is that showing love and care doesn’t require a cent!” Catherine concludes.
ABOUT HARVEST TABLE
Since inception in 2018, The Harvest Table has been creating pure, wholesome products packaged earth consciously to change the lives of our customers positively by educating them and helping them to make better food choices daily.
For more information, please visit: www.theharvesttable.co.za