2020 has been a year like no other, with its rollercoaster of lockdowns, tier restrictions and vaccines appearing on every news cycle, alongside infection rates and number of deaths. Businesses have been tested and stretched, having to reinvent themselves, change processes, source new PPE and implement redundancy processes. All that on top of preparing for new trading agreements in Europe, assuming Boris Johnson secures a deal – and even if he does not.
Meanwhile, employees have been on their own rollercoaster rides. Moving through furlough schemes, job retention initiatives, going back to furlough or facing the big dip into redundancy and an uncertain future. They have had to learn about working from home , using different types of tech and adjusting to a Covid-secure workplace. This year has, for many of us, been about wearing or not wearing masks, self-isolating and home-schooling children from tots to teens – all at the same time for some. For others, health concerns have been highest on their agenda, assessing medical risks, working out issues around shielding, recovering from Covid and, sadly, dealing with bereavements. Weddings have been cancelled and funerals limited. It has been quite the year.
Christmas is usually a season of joy, pantomimes and family connections; a time to rest from the busyness of work. We normally enjoy going to parties and meeting up with family for festive celebrations, and yet 2020 is asking us to remain patient and selfless for a little while longer. We are still subject to travel restrictions and social distancing rules that are bringing drastic changes to how we are allowed to celebrate together too.
Given the prolonged need for everyone to be flexible, agile, creative and resilient when facing the various challenges that 2020 has thrown at us all, it is no surprise that we may all be feeling a little exhausted this festive season.
So, as we start the final two-week countdown to Christmas, now is a great time to look at how you can support your own and your team’s wellbeing. To help you, here are five suggestions.
- Songs of praise
While we may not be able to venture out for the office party, it is still important to connect with your team (and your family and friends too). In our new virtual world, we may be tired of Zoom meetings, webinars and emails so this may mean thinking a little more creatively. When did you last write someone a card with a message of thanks inside, or a letter to express your gratitude for a job well done? Your people have worked very hard this year through a challenging climate, so recognising and rewarding their efforts and successes will help them feel valued and keep up their motivation right through to the end of the year.
- Winter wonderland
Embracing the cold temperatures outdoors, and perhaps getting on a winter coat is one way we can engage with our team in the open air. Try and plan a walk meeting each day with someone from your team. Even if you are based in different towns or counties, you can still pop on those headphones and share the outdoors via a phone or video call together. If talking and walking is not your thing, then encourage your team to get out of their homes and offices into the outdoors for an al fresco lunchtime break to help boost their heart rates, increase afternoon energy levels, get some Vitamin D and clear their heads. Encourage your team to spend some time outdoors each day to support their mental health – and make sure you do the same!
- Smell the roses
The reality that our employees are facing may include redundancies, business closures and uncertainty around furlough schemes and job security. So make sure you notice when people are overworking and over-stressing. This can lead to burnout and that is not good for business or the employee’s mental health. Yes, we are still talking about getting that work-life balance right. Working at home can blur the lines a little more than we are used to, especially if we are concerned about losing our jobs and feel the pressure to work longer hours. There is always the temptation to work through lunch or open the laptop after dinner to answer just one more email. So, it is vital to monitor how long your teams are beavering away and to encourage them to switch off and take regular breaks. I bet some of us are missing those coffee machine conversations right now. Breaks and good rest time will help you and your team focus, improve productivity and feel more positive.
- The future is bright, paint them a picture
As we start the wind-down to Christmas it is a great opportunity to start looking into the future that lies ahead, make some positive plans and set some goals. Whether starting a new project or looking at professional and career development, talk to your employees about the future. This will help you understand more about how they are feeling in this current climate and gives you a chance to support them by building hope for them and a plan. Talking about the future of the business and planning that future together will create enthusiasm and anticipation for a great year ahead.
- You cannot do it all!
You may be a great leader or manager who cares about their team a lot, but you are not a therapist or counsellor and members of your team may need more emotional or physical support than you can give. Now may be a good time to engage with your mental health first aiders, organisational coaching teams, or to invest in a great Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) to help those who may need some more specialist support. Finally, If your team need someone to talk to this festive season, know who you can point them to so they can feel they are getting the support they need. Happy Christmas to you all!