Making Contact By Shirley Ha, BSc. (Hons), O.D.
During this challenging time, it’s worth asking yourself if you’re so busy navigating operational and financial challenges that you’ve forgotten to invest time in your biggest asset—your employees. Like you, they’re stressed by many factors, including concerns for their health and that of their families, plus financial strains and the adjustment to new working conditions. This is a vital time to support them and help foster their potential for growth and development. Despite necessary cost-cutting and the fact that some staff are working remotely, now is the opportune time to invent‘new normal’ employee support systems that support wellbeing, thus creating a win/win for all. It starts with you!
Take your leadership to the next level and lead by example. Begin every day by reflecting on what you value in each employee and why you care about your staff. Take your own “alone time” to center yourself and reach into your motivations for work. Then, take time to show your staff how you feel in every interaction you have with them, even if the encounter is brief. Be an enthusiastic fan and cheerleader and express your belief in them. When their actions are congruent with your vision and goals, and they believe that their contributions are valued, their confidence will increase, as will their engagement.
A VIRTUOS CIRCLE
Many employees are demonstrating amazing warm-heartedness and making extraordinary efforts to help co-workers and patients. Make sure to sincerely and genuinely praise these efforts and encourage employees to appreciate one another. Make a point of celebrating with your employees, not just wins but also the fact that they are performing‘regular’ business activities under extraordinary circumstances. If possible, reward the team with gifts, such as fruit baskets or gift certificates for take-out food or an online, non-work-related class.
Meaningful connections and relationships are important to the human psyche. This means you must continue to build on your office culture or create one that inspires collaboration, friendships and social connections between your onsite/remote workers, and between workers in different areas in the office, such as backend administrative staff with frontline dispensing personnel. If some people are unable to join a scheduled social Zoom call, consider asynchronous platforms: Slack channel or a private page on Facebook, or a Messenger group for work-related bonding, such as for mentoring and sharing life-hacking tips, research papers, ideas and personal celebrations.
Instead of waiting for scheduled feedback/performance reviews, frequently take the pulse of your team and close the social distancing gap with proactive personal touch points or ‘check-ins’with individual staff via text messaging or phone calls. This helps to initiate or continue conversations, discuss issues that are important to them, provide performance guidance and positive feedback, devise solutions and update the progress of ongoing projects. At the same time, let them know about your open-door policy for reaching out should the need arise. The more interactions you have with your employees, the more they will have a sense of belonging and the more engaged they will be.
Try increasing your own energy level in order to expand your capacity to perform and drive engagement. This will rub off by helping to rejuvenate and refresh your employees. When it feels appropriate, and without being paternalistic, encourage staff to take care of their minds and bodies. You might recommend and provide resources for the practice of breathing exercises twice a day, setting aside ‘alone’ time, engaging in mentally challenging activities and learning new skills. Encourage regular daily aerobic exercises, positive sleep patterns and watching funny movies for their physiological and psychological benefits. Lead by maintaining a healthy diet and taking nutrition breaks while at work. If you take the above-mentioned steps in a creative and inspiring way, your employees will develop affection and loyalty for your organization and those in it. They will value their contributions and grow along with you. As we recover and move to the other side of the COVID-19 pandemic, the opportunities to expand your offerings, such as curbside pickup and digital commerce—the new “normal” way of doing business—will be more readily embraced by your staff. And that’s a win-win for everyone in your organization.
Employee Supporting WELLNESS During COVID
NOVEMBER - DECEMBER 2020 / 19