Posts Tagged ‘workplace wellbeing’

7 Things You Can Do Today to Give Your Remote Teams Social Support

Thursday, February 24th, 2022

Loneliness is bad for your health – according to some research, it’s as damaging as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

Even if you’re taking steps to help your remote workers prevent burnout, adapt to the virtual world of work and balance work and family obligations, living and working under the same roof for an extended period of time can make it difficult not to feel lonely.

Here are a few practical things you can do to help your remote employees build strong social ties, experience connection and avoid loneliness.

Why is social interaction and support important in the workplace?

Research shows that social support — family and friends you can count on, as well as other close relationships — can cushion us against a variety of worries, including workplace stress, that can compromise health.

We have identified key aspects of workplace culture that influence how socially connected and supported employees feel and contribute to greater employee well-being and mental health:

  • Work relationships are meaningful
  • Management is approachable
  • People cooperate with each other
  • Interactions between colleagues are caring
  • People feel they “belong” to a group
  • People believe they have each other’s backs
  • There is a sense of fun
  • Special events are celebrated

How do you develop these areas of your company culture?

1. Encourage acts of kindness

In a recent study of people experiencing social isolation, researchers found that feelings of social isolation coincided with an increase in circulation of immature immune cells that travel to the brain and promote anxiety.

The same study showed that “asking lonely people to be kind to others has significantly reduced the offer’s feelings of loneliness.” Other similar studies have shown that such acts also improve mental well-being.

The good news gets better. The same evidence tells us that online acts of kindness – such as donating to a crowdfunding campaign – can be just as beneficial as face-to-face acts of generosity.  There are more ways to engage employees in giving while working remotely:

  • Get your team involved in a virtual charity event
  • Encourage peer-to-peer thank you notes
  • Start a gratitude activity, inviting all employees to send one-to-one e-cards of appreciation to colleagues.

2. Unleash your Employee Resource Groups

Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are employee-led committees that promote a diverse and inclusive workplace aligned with the organisations they serve.

ERGs are built on cooperation and shared interest, and naturally bring people together. For members, they create a sense of group belonging that builds strong social bonds.

One way to tap into the potential of your ERGs is to task them with designing social activities.

3. Celebrate special events in creative ways

Celebrating accomplishments is more important than ever. While some organisations have sophisticated recognition programs, the most valued form of recognition is often the simplest and most personal.

Some ideas to celebrate with your remote workforce:

  • Invite a senior leader to your team video call to speak about the accomplishments of those involved.
  • DIY cocktail kits or pizza boxes or cupcake treats delivered to employees’ homes for a team meeting toast or celebration.
  • Send a hand-written thank you note in the post to the employees’ family telling them just how much the employee is appreciated.
  • Treat an employee to takeout/home delivery from a restaurant in their area to celebrate the accomplishment, while also supporting their community.

4. Instigate informal interactions

In the socially close physical office, people chat to colleagues at desks or gather in the kitchen for an informal chat. These exchanges often bring employees from across teams together and give junior team members an opportunity to connect with their senior colleagues, and listen and observe the various chats and conversations that take place in this setting.

You can still foster these candid interactions without a physical office. One easy way to do this is to set up casual meetings:

  • Virtual coffee dates
  • Opt-in meetings with no agenda
  • Walk and talk team calls – where everyone is out for a walk and join a team call for 10 minutes

To encourage extra connection, you can make these gatherings cross-departmental.

5. Create space at the top of meetings

Without the incidental chat that comes with sharing a physical office, small but crucial bits of social interaction are lost.

When working remotely, it’s tempting to jump right into meeting agendas, but if you want to encourage these interactions, you need to set the example for your teams and make time for personal, non-work related conversation in your meetings. Carving out this time also gives your people the chance to air any stresses they might be carrying, and this will give you an insight into the well-being of your team colleagues.

Making space in meetings for employees to clear their minds is an effective way to show that you care and create social support.

6. Make time for fun

When you can, it’s important to infuse a little fun into your co-workers’ day, because team members who laugh together grow closer together, and laughter is know to be a de-stresser.

Here are a few simple ways you can inject some fun into the workday even while working at a distance:

Create online channels for non-work banter, focused on topics like pets, kids, or artistic interests.

  • Invite a performance artist, like a musician or poet, to give a virtual performance
  • Swirl and sip over a virtual wine tasting
  • Take Trivia Night and Bingo online
  • Startup a book club and get together virtually
  • Join one of the online museum or gallery virtual tours together

7. Check in on a 1:1 level

Supporting employee well-being works best when individualised. When employees get one-to-one support, they feel seen and valued,  plus as a leader, you become better equipped to respond to their personal needs. How will you know if someone’s language of appreciation is “words of affirmation” without taking the time to get to know them on a personal level?

One example is to connect employees affected by COVID-19 with a “buddy” to:

  • Check in on them
  • Keep their spirits up
  • Offer encouragement
  • Sharing strengthens us all

Remote working is here to stay and we all want to make it a successful experience especially as we move froward post Covid restrictions and start to have a little more freedom and the ability to create better remote working environments for our people.

Tips for a Healthy Happy Festive Season after a Pandemic Year

Monday, December 20th, 2021

It’s Christmas, the shops are bulging with all things nice and temptation to avail of the bumper packs, two for one and buy one get one free offers. And that’s just the food and alcohol!!! Add in the pressure to have a showroom perfect house with themed decorations, enough lights to be visible from the moon and a mountain of beautifully wrapped gifts, plus end of year work deadlines, and the stress levels begin to rise and panic sets in. And that’s before factoring in the additional anxiety of PCR and antigen tests, COVID certs, vaccine boosters and the general weariness of the past year.

We’re all tired and need some rest. We also need to refuel, recharge and get ready for the new year, which hopefully will finally see the fading away of COVID and a return to a freer living environment.

Here are some seasonal tips to help avoid the January blues and enjoy the festivities without too much overindulgence and extra stress.

Food

It’s so easy to overeat over Christmas, goodies are a plenty as we stock up on tasty treats because “hey it’s Christmas”! And yes, we do all deserve to overdo it a little but the key message here is MODERATION.  Instead of saying yes to everything, and mindlessly dipping into the bowls of crisps, sweets, picking off the plates of nibbles and having that extra mince pie – STOP! Think about what you are eating, enjoy and savour it and then step away.  There are usually some healthy options too, try a few and surprise yourself on how tasty they can be, replenishing your vitamin and mineral levels at the same time.

Food is fuel – the cleaner and purer the more efficient and stronger the body!

Exercise

Running around the shops, traipsing around town and decorating the house is often all the exercise many of us get at Christmas. And yes, it does count but keeping active and getting some fresh air has a huge impact on balancing stress levels and keeping the extra inches at bay.  A brisk walk after a big meal is a great way to keep energised and if you have a current exercise routine don’t put it on hold altogether for the month of December.  Stick with it as much as possible and come January the thought of going back to the gym, hitting the pavements or signing back up for that pilates class will not hurt as much.  It’s a great way to get together with friends and family too, organise a hike and a picnic, a turkey sandwich eaten at the top of a mountain cannot be beaten.  And for the really brave and bold a dip in the sea will put a skip in anyone’s step – just be careful!

A fit and active body is one that is truly alive!

Stress

The end of the year can be a hugely stressful time in any work environment.  With deadlines, targets, planning and budgets all top of the agenda the pressure can be at boiling point.  Take stock, prioritise and manage your time efficiently. Plan your day and stick with that plan as best you can.  Be realistic in what you can achieve and be open with your colleagues and managers on your manageable goals.

The same applies for stress at home, financially Christmas can add huge strain so be realistic and don’t spend what you don’t have. Easy to say, but by planning early, taking advantage of offers, pre-Christmas sales and not leaving everything to the last minute you can avoid getting into debt and spending January worrying about bills and expenses.

Take stock, be realistic and plan for a stress-free time.

Alcohol

Mulled wine, bubbles, cocktails and sherry it’s hard to avoid a tipple or two and get a bit merry. Family gatherings and meeting up with friends there’s usually some alcohol on offer and given the festive spirit, well why not!! But being mindful of what you are drinking is the key to minding yourself.  No one enjoys hangovers and that feeling of dread after one too many and if you are already feeling stressed or a little bit low those feelings are magnified and come become overwhelming.  Follow the tips of never drinking on an empty stomach (hard to do over Christmas); pace yourself, drink plenty of water and try not to mix your drinks too much.   Be aware of how much you are drinking, don’t top up, finish your glass first otherwise you really have no idea how much you have drunk. And remember it is ok to say NO! Your friends and family will be jealous of your clear head the next day.

Have a tipple and be merry just don’t over-do it on the Sherry!

And lastly be mindful of others.  Christmas can be a difficult time for many people, particularly this year, so if you know someone is feeling low, lonely or stressed reach out to them. Volunteer to help out at a local centre, fund raising or simply to do a bit of shopping for a neighbour – it will make their day and make you feel good too.

Enjoy, be kind, be safe and be healthy… Happy Christmas!

Ingrid O’Sullivan, Voltedge Management Operations Manager