Covid-19: Taking care of your staff as you get back to work

Mental Health Awareness week: Kindness

There’s no doubt that Covid-19 is affecting us all.  Whether it’s business related, having children at home, not being able to see family and friends or anxiety about the virus itself.

It’s Mental Health Awareness Week this week, the theme being kindness.  So, we caught up with Mushroom’s HR Lead Charlotte Szeptycki about why it’s important for business owners and managers to be kind to their employees and how they can do this.  This is what she had to say:

You want to take care of your company – of course – but a company is only as good as the people working for it.  How do you ensure your people are as good as they can be?  Treat them well!  Not only will it help employee loyalty and retention, it’ll also help with productivity and performance.

Taking care of your staff means you’ll gain the reputation of being a good employer and a desirable place to work.  People will be eager to work for you, allowing you to attract higher quality candidates.  Sales Force has recently won the Best WorkPlace Award for 2020.  Paul Smith, VP and General Manager in the UK says “Making an impact in our industry and the communities we serve starts with building a great place to work.  People want real insights from real employees when looking to join a company.  What we do well, how we improve on the things we are not so good at and the opportunities on offer to actively engage and make a contribution to the culture”.

It‘s important to understand employees’ needs.  They may, for example:

  • have childcare issues
  • be home schooling
  • be shielding because they are vulnerable
  • be concerned about a family member who currently has Covid-19

Flexible working is so important, especially right now.  A colleague may wish to:

  • start or finish a little earlier
  • do fewer hours during the day, but make these hours up in the evening or over the weekend
  • do longer hours over fewer days

Listen to your employees’ concerns and be approachable.  You and your employee have a relationship, and you’re both working together to achieve the company’s goals.  Some flexibility and communication will not only motivate your staff but is also likely to be remembered and rewarded with higher performance and productivity.

Ensure you’re regularly checking in with your employees who are working from home. – not from a trust point of view but to ask them how they’re doing and if there are any difficulties (and not just with their work).  I think for most, the idea of working from home sounded good initially, but as humans we crave connection with others, we enjoy being in the office with its laughter and engagement, and we can thrive on routine and normality.  The opportunity to talk through a piece of work has more barriers now, so encourage your staff to reach out if they need support.  Daily team meetings could be offered as well as regular one to ones to help with this.  Maybe even a Friday evening virtual team catch up with drinks!

It may have taken a while to adapt to working from home, so for any staff returning to work, they might have some anxieties.  Take some time to listen to their concerns and help address them, so the change feels much easier.  Staff may wish to wear a face mask, move their desk or workstation away from others, not have anyone else make them a cup of tea.  People want to feel safe at work, not wasting time worrying, so help them achieve this.

On an ongoing basis, regular performance management activities should be conducted and not just when there’s a staff issue. Regular appraisals are the perfect opportunity for employee and employer to have a beneficial conversation, to discuss how each feels about their past, present and future at the company.  It allows positive feedback and reward to be given; constructive feedback, advice and support where needed; and to identify future training and progression within the business.

As you can see, kindness works both ways and as an employer, you’re often rewarded with more motivated, committed, productive and loyal staff that will go the extra mile for you willingly.  This kind of company culture is actively sought by high quality candidates.  Employees need to feel valued and respected.  Remember it’s not just the salary size that matters! 😉

Mushroom has supported many clients over the past couple of months with Furlough agreements, contract variations, Staff handbooks and much more besides. 

If you’re in need of advice and support, simply book a free 20-minute HR consultation by emailing theteam@mushroombiz.co.uk.