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5 ways for managers to support their staff post lockdown


Post lockdown life has certainly not been the all-singing all-dancing affair we’ve been expecting for months. Despite bringing back many great perks like spending time with family and eating out, it’s also brought along a whole lot of new changes. 

Many of the managers who have attended one of our Bite Size Workshops have asked us how to best support their team through these constant changes. Pre-Covid, direction already spent a lot of time teaching managers how to manage change in their organisations so we’re well placed to advise on this challenge. 

While some people are going back to the office with a spring in their step, others are feeling anxious about getting on a bus and keeping distances from colleagues for all sorts of reasons.  Some worry about the kids milling around hundreds of other children in the playground. The ones who are still working from home might be feeling cottage fever setting in, struggling with tiredness and isolation. We’ve also gone through the painful process of cancelling long awaited holidays and making new plans. Let’s face it, it’s been a roller coaster and we’re not about to get off just yet!

For all of these reasons and many others, some of your team members might be struggling. As a manager, part of your job is to support your team so they can deliver their best work. Mental health is essential to how well your team is performing. If they’re feeling tired, stressed, anxious, low or unmotivated, they’re not going to be their best-self. Look out for employees that are withdrawing, sending less emails and being quieter during meetings. 

It’s important you have the right tools to help your team navigate these times of change so we’ve decided to share five ways you can use to support them. 

1- Truly listen
If you’ve got any doubts on how one of your staff members is coping, have a chat with them. If face to face isn’t possible, the next best thing is a video call, as it’ll help you read their body language. If tech isn’t on your side, simply pick up the phone. When you speak to them, make sure to really listen by paying attention to what they’re saying and how they’re saying it. Don’t multitask. Ask them how they are doing and don’t shy away from silences. It’s sometimes what’s needed for someone to master the courage to say “Actually, I’m not great”. If you’re filling every second with words, they might not feel comfortable jumping in. 

2- Reduce the stigma
Unfortunately, admitting we’re struggling is still hard for many. It’s important to let your team know that if any of them aren’t feeling great, it’s OK. When someone is struggling, it’s easy for them to observe others and think they’re all winning at life. A reminder that anyone can struggle at any time, even if you can’t tell, can go a long way.  Use the internal newsletter or team meetings to reinforce the importance of looking after your mental health. 

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3- Pull resources together
If you make resources easy to access for your staff, there are more chances they’ll use them. If your employees know you care about mental health, they’ll be more comfortable coming to you if they’re struggling. You can create a list of helpful resources including books, podcasts and articles. To get inspiration, download our free Sur-Thrival Plan and share it with your staff. It’s full of tips and strategies to optimise working from home, be a great communicator and look after yourself. You can also download and share our free Mindfulness Practise. It’s great for a quick break during the day, especially for anyone who’s feeling overwhelmed or struggling to focus. 

4- Set healthy boundaries

Boundaries between work and home life are more blurred than ever as most people continue to work from home. This lack of clear divide between the two means people can feel like they’re “on” all the time. This is draining and impacts both productivity and mental health negatively. Setting healthy boundaries for your employees can be a real help. We’re talking about telling them clearly that they’re not expected to answer emails outside of working hours (even if the boss does it once in a while). Explaining that clearing their workspace and putting their work laptop away after they’re done for the day will help them switch off. Encouraging them to take time off regularly and holding them to it. By letting them know what you expect from them, you’re empowering your team to make healthy choices. 

5 – Encourage staff to talk to each other
Unless all of your team members are back in one office, it’s likely some of them might be feeling isolated at home. It’s important to encourage them to talk to each other. Emails are quick and handy but they can’t replace having a phone or video call. You could organise a weekly Virtual Coffee Morning where people drop in on a video call and chat to each other. Another great idea is to match employees in pairs each week and have an allocated time for them to have a 30minute phone call. This means they’ll talk to a different team member each week. Encourage them to talk about something else than work and to take a walk when they’re on the phone if they’d like to. If you’ve got an easy way for employees to share pictures (like Slack or Whatsapp) it’s also nice to prompt them to share what they’re getting up to outside of work. This will definitely spark some conversations and inspire others to take on new activities. 

These are all great ways to support your team and be the best leader you can be. Remember that we all grow out of change and this is an opportunity to build a stronger, more resilient team. If you’d like extra help on how to support your team, we deliver Bite Size training for managers on topics such as Building Resilience, Managing Stress-Recognising Stress in Ourselves and Others, Understanding Change and more. Click here for more information. 

PS: Don’t forget to look after yourself too 🙂