How to support your employees through this perplexing pandemic
A pandemic. SERIOUSLY? A pandemic? As we all know now, those don’t just happen in the movies. No one could have predicted the ramifications of any of this, let alone its lasting impact on the worldwide workforce. Are you feeling burned out at work? Desperate for some relief? Unmotivated, confused, and isolated? Well, it’s not just you. Mental health and wellbeing tanked by a whopping 33% among workers since the start of the pandemic, according to SHRM.org. That’s not a small number — the study suggested that the combination of working remotely and also reporting to an office was a factor for many … which isn’t the best news, as many people navigate a “hybrid” work week for the foreseeable future.
The emotional ramifications of the pandemic continue to impact our personal lives, too, and disrupt any social time among coworkers. Nearly 50% of employees feel less motivated to network outside of work, and 42% have less desire to socialize with friends. The CDC also says that COVID has not only shifted our conversations and worries, but it’s also changed how we show up for work. People are taking on more tasks, worrying more about the health of their family, and feeling constant uncertainty about the future of their jobs and the economic climate in general.
It’s always been important to create a collaborative work environment, as well as bring employees together to support one another through work projects — and even personal crises. Of course, this is much easier to do in an office atmosphere. After 2020 sent so many of us to our bedrooms, kitchen tables, and makeshift home offices, it was (and is) much harder to connect and find opportunities for team members to spend time together. It seemed like everyone spent 2020 trying to catch up to the circumstances of COVID-19!
This is why it’s key to start changing the tides at work — it’s where many of us spend most of our time and where it’s the toughest to maintain some semblance of sanity during this wild time. Traditional EAP programs aren’t cutting it anymore; now’s the time to think beyond the “checkbox” wellness-program tasks.
If you’ve struggled — or are still struggling — to keep the band together during these changing times, you’re definitely not alone, and it’s never too late to start. If you did manage to find that sweet spot of extending empathy and a helping hand at work, well done! If you’re somewhere in between, focus on prioritizing colleague connections and building avenues for more comradery and teamwork.
To the managers — there are ways to help your employees, and they don’t necessarily come with a big price tag. First, have an open-door policy when it comes to talking about pandemic concerns at work. It’s helpful to understand what stress looks like, take steps to help workers build resilience and practice stress management, and know where to go if you need help. Open-door policies support employees through that process, and they also indirectly boost morale and encourage better transparency around the office (or in between screens).
These are great techniques to promote greater wellbeing in the workplace. But what’s the missing piece to take it a step further? An engaging wellness program, focusing on gamification and activities that can flourish in a virtual or in-person environment. Employees want to know that their employer cares about their wellbeing as much as they do their productivity; bringing the fun into work is one way to do that. We zero in on gamification with everything we do, which is why our programs transcend those of, dare we say, “old-school” wellness programs.
Are you looking to improve your employees’ wellbeing at home and at work? Click below to find out how Sonic Boom’s comprehensive, fully customizable wellness programs can help!