The third Monday in January is often dubbed the gloomiest day of the year. Even before Christmas, almost a third of employees were reporting low morale. Now with the UK back in lockdown and our workplaces facing continued disruption, this year’s Blue Monday looks set to be particularly difficult.
While the situation may seem overwhelming, with the right tools leadership and HR teams can take steps to refocus their wellbeing plans and help keep their workforce at its best.
Whether you’re looking to enhance your wellbeing strategy or implement practical support during the pandemic, it helps to keep a few key principles in mind.
Five mantras for team leaders
- Tailor your support Whether they’re a keyworker, returning from furlough, living alone or getting to grips with home schooling, each employee is facing a unique set of challenges. Be considerate of each individual’s circumstances and tailor your conversations to ensure their situation is recognised.
- Act as a guideIt’s important for managers to stay up to date with national guidelines and internal procedural changes. Be sure to communicate any updates quickly and clearly to help reassure your team, and be available to answer any questions.
- Acknowledge your constraintsWhile leaders must adapt to changing situations, they should also manage expectations carefully. Take the time to understand the challenges faced across your organisation, then build flexibility into your approach.
- Rekindle your sense of purposeIn tough times it can be easy to lose sight of the end goal. Managers should focus on motivating employees without adding extra pressure. Boost morale by revisiting your common objectives and reminding your team of the valuable role they play as individuals.
- Make wellbeing a priorityProper wellbeing support allows a team to perform at its best. Build discussions of mental and physical health into your regular working week and encourage employees to prioritise their wellbeing both in and outside the workplace.
Wellbeing tips for busy managers
Armed with these principles, leadership teams can be confident that their wellbeing strategy adapts to this year’s everchanging changing circumstances. But how can line managers put the plan into action?
It’s important to foster a culture of wellness, but with our busy schedules it can be difficult to plan wellbeing activities into the working week.
If you’re pushed for time, try a ‘little and often’ wellbeing approach which integrates with your management style. A few small actions can help promote self-care and encourage your employees to prioritise their mental health when times get tough.
Try these simple wellbeing ideas for people managers:
- Catch up with your team regularly and keep an eye out for body language clues or changes in behaviour that may suggest an employee is struggling.
- If you’re working from home, try organising virtual tea breaks to help your team reconnect on a more personal level.
- Encourage employees to schedule wellbeing hours into their day, including exercise breaks and time to decompress.
- Practise what you preach – make sure you’re taking regular breaks and scheduling your own self-care so your team feels empowered to do the same.
- Don’t be afraid to ask about mental health. Only 41% of employees feel comfortable bringing up their mental health at work, so managers must play an active role in starting the conversation.
These easy steps can help boost morale and mental health, but if someone in your team is having a hard time, it’s important to take action to get them back to their healthy best. For further advice, try our blogs on remote wellbeing support and building a flexible mental health strategy.
Resources for your lockdown wellbeing plan
- COVID-19 resource centre – Further help for HR teams, specific to the pandemic
- Keyworker support pack – A guide on how to protect and boost your wellbeing during coronavirus
- Download our Blue Monday advice as a PDF – All the tips from this blog post in a handy guide to share with your team
- Wellbeing webinars – Live coaching sessions and advice on a variety of health and wellbeing topics
- Mental Health First Aid – Certified Mental Health First Aid courses that can be completed online
- Westfield Health blog – Wellbeing news, research and practical advice for HR professionals
- Mind mental health at work advice – Tips for employers and employees to create a mentally healthy workplace
- Time to Change – talking about mental health – Practical advice for starting the conversation and what you might want to say