We asked our friends at workplace wellbeing training business, Welfy, to share an article with our readers.

We choose to partner with Welfy because their impact on employees’ wellbeing endures. Habit change is at the core of their offering, so they don’t just give a fish, they teach people how to fish. They also happen to be former businesspeople, so what you get is highly relevant content, powerful communication and measurable results. The Co-Founders are also an infectiously engaging and passionate pair.

We hope you enjoy.

Five tips to help your team to help themselves during a global Pandemic

Image of a baby tortoise stuck on his back in need of help

Once you identify that people are struggling with aspects of their wellbeing, how do you intervene? Here we share five tips you wish you’d always known.

“These. Are. Unprecedented. Times.” This was my early lockdown mantra. The reason why I donned my pyjamas until noon. It also worked well as I scoffed a large bar of dark chocolate (medicinal) and necked a bottle of malbec (medicinal also). It was equally effective as I walked past the towering mountain of washing growing daily on the landing. And laughed in the face of the coat hook hanging off the wall, which became like an increasingly precarious house of cards.

“I cannot BE a normal, functioning human when the world is so ABNORMAL,” I cried. Everyone is losing it to a lesser or greater extent, aren’t they?

I slowly realised I needed to get out from under the duvet of excuses I had created. So cosy. But actually I was starting to feel quite rank. I have wellbeing in my job title for goodness sake. So I got out from under the duvet. I am notably less rank now.

But they are unprecedented times. And the third in the lockdown trilogy is perhaps the least enjoyable instalment, with freezing temperatures and January blues thrown in for good measure. And we are to a lesser or greater extent finding life hard for totally valid reasons.

  • The UK has been operating in a form of lockdown for over 11 wearying months now. ELEVEN.
  • Usage of video call platforms has increased 120% and a study found that it takes on average 18 minutes to get back into work and feel productive again following one. Not to mention the 11 ways that video calls have been identified to impact mental health.

The wave of mental health issues is coming. Nuffield Health found that between June 2019 and March 2020, 10% of adults were experiencing moderate to severe symptoms of depression. In June 2020, this had almost doubled to 19%.

At Welfy, we have a simple framework for tackling the vicious cycle of poor self-care that has become commonplace. Our workplace wellbeing training is evidence based and proven to snap people out of the deepest malaise. Our virtual workshops are interactive and invigorating. Packed with brilliantly simple tools and fascinating knowledge that help employees to create personalised plans and adopt better habits for good. Our training has also been found to increase sense of productivity by up to 30%.

Here are five Welfy tips for helping your team to help themselves:

1. Go retro.

Clubhouse, the exclusive audio only App fresh out of Silicon Valley, is creating something of a trend back to audio. It’s brilliant fun eavesdropping on high profile conversations and raising your hand to ask obscure questions. But the point is, it’s not exhausting your eyes and your brain in the same way video does. Similarly, podcasts have exploded into the mainstream over the past year with 32% more people listening to them regularly. And good old radio has enjoyed a boost of 59% in listening hours. It feels liberating just to listen.

Jump on the retro band wagon by:

  • Adopting one day every week that is Zoom free. Banned. Not allowed. Nada. Your eyeballs and your energy will thank you, as will your team.
  • Encourage spontaneous, cross-department phone calls. Remember bumping into people at the water cooler and just having a natter? Like that. Only via good old-fashioned phone. No real purpose, not scheduled, just a chin wag. This human connection is proven to drive meaningful collaboration and creativity. It’s why Steve Jobs designed his offices with centralised atriums with cafés, so that people from different departments were forced to see each other. Also check out randomcoffees.com a Slack plugin that generates random weekly virtual connections.
  • Or go extra retro and handwrite notes to members of your team who have done great work. It’s inherently personal and meaningful and people will often keep them on their desk as they’re viewed as gifts, not just letters. Really there’s no substitute for the power of the pen.

2. Create psychological safety.

Google’s infamous Project Aristotle uncovered five key dynamics that set a successful team apart. Top of the list was psychological safety. We’ve all heard this right? But have you thought about it in the context of our current lockdown world?

How can you make team members feel safe to take risks and be vulnerable in front of each other? This matters more than ever. Broadly, people do not feel safe. They feel anxious. And anxiety doth not make for high performing teams.

Turn this crisis into an opportunity to dial up psychological safety:

  • Senior leaders can set the tone by sharing their own vulnerability with their teams. That means talking about how you’re feeling personally and being open about the downs as well as the ups. Need convincing? Watch this.
  • Encourage employees to share their risk-taking stories in an existing weekly forum. It doesn’t have to be something big, simply asking a Client for clarification on a goal is enough. Google found that this practice improved psychological safety ratings by 6%. And every percentage point counts when it leads to happier, higher performing teams.

3. I see you. I understand you. I appreciate you.

One of the most powerful human needs is that of being seen and heard. We all want to feel valued, important and that we matter at various times.

One in six British businesses have sent gifts to employees under mounting pressure during lockdown, from books to boxes of doughnuts. Whilst it’s no doubt appreciated, our advice is to recognise and reward in more personal, non-formulaic ways wherever possible.

  • Consumer Insight agency, Relish, sent their people bonsai trees during the first lockdown. Giving every team member something in common to care and tend to. With plants on desks proven to boost productivity by 15%, it’s a small but powerful present in every respect.
  • On a weekly basis, FMCG giant Mars, has been sending high performers £50 for their own choice of takeaway. Sensible when knowing people’s ever-shifting dietary requirements is nigh on impossible.
  • Kindeo is a great tool to create personalised digital thank you messages. It’s fast, free, easy to do and allows you to ask other team members to contribute too.

4. Respect the flex

We all have a unique energy flow to our day. Some are more early birds or ‘larks’, some are ‘night owls’ and others are somewhere in the middle – ‘third birds’. In his book, When, Dan Pink helps us to understand that these ‘Chronotypes’ can assist us in structuring our days in a way that works best for us.

I’m a lark, so complex tasks that require deep work are best done in the morning. Simple, admin tasks from around 2pm which is ‘the trough’. Creative and collaborative tasks will come easier from around 4pm. For owls, it’s the opposite. Encourage your teams to recognise their type and structure tasks accordingly.

The pandemic has forced most businesses to embrace flexible working but if you are not a parent of a school aged child, empathise often with the poor souls juggling home-schooling with work commitments. The average number of hours spent doing schoolwork per week significantly increases as the age of the child increases from 5-10 years (10 hours) to 11-15 years (16 hours).

5. Prioritise line managers

We believe that Line Managers are in a particularly precarious position. Expected to strap on their own oxygen mask and then dish out the correct brand of support to those struggling around them during these challenging times.

But where to start? Welfy Line Manager Training imbues people with the confidence to have the tough conversations, whilst teaching them how to look after themselves. Creating great habits that trickle down to others.

A large Harvard Business Review study found that “Developing self and others” is the behaviour with the highest correlation between managers and their direct reports. That’s ahead of Technical skills, Decisiveness and Being results focused (all in the top ten). So wellbeing behaviours are VERY contagious. How can you make training your people managers to walk the wellbeing walk a business priority?

“As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.” – Maya Angelou

We’ll connect you with the right people at Welfy: email us on hello@govox.co.uk for more information