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Businesses need a phenomenal team to work in uncertain times.  That means, however, uncertain you are personally; you have to be the very best leader you have ever been.  Only the ones who prioritize looking after their staff will have high performing teams to help them through recovery. 

There may well be lockdowns in the future, and your team will still have members off self-isolating     Either way they will, of course, need you to provide proper PPE but to make them safe and happy, you need to do a great deal more. Even practical things such as supporting their digital needs, as according to a recent survey from the Cartridge People, printers were number one on the homeworkers’ stress list,

Many of them may be suffering from anxiety not just from the virus, but from money worries as well. An Office for National Statistics survey Brendan Street, who is a Professional Head of Emotional Wellbeing for Nuffield Health explains:

Anxiety often stems from the unknown. Anxious employees repeatedly ask themselves ‘what if?’ and focus on problems before they have happened.

Sharing actionable steps on how the business is planning to safeguard their health and how they can protect themselves when back in their old work environment will help rationalize this issue.

Priority number one is to work on creating a community that interacts with each other, at work, working at home, or temporarily off.  Each person still needs to feel they are part of your tribe.  If you haven’t already, now is the time to set up a group chat at fixed times every week, perhaps one for work matters and one that is purely social time.  People need to see each other.  Not only will this strengthen the team as a whole, but it will also help prevent the isolation factor for anyone who is off.

Other ways to support your team

            Transparency is vital.  No-one is going to expect you to be able to answer when the pandemic will end or guarantee that no businesses will close, no jobs will be lost.  What they will want is for you to be honest with them about what you are doing towards making your particular company one of the survivors.  They will also be happy to be actively involved in brainstorming for ideas to pivot, improve, and increase the chances. 

            Stop making their decisions for them:  Now is the perfect time to cure yourself of your tendency to make sweeping decisions without stopping to think.  Giving your team more autonomy is not only going to make them happier and perform better but will enable you to step back more.   Focus on what they say and what they suggest, rather than pushing your ideas and solutions.  Be patient, trust them, and empower them.

            Make time for them personally.  Talk to them, be it in person or by phone regularly, on a personal basis.  Talk about how they are and how they are managing.  You may not be able to solve all their problems, but some empathy and compassion will go a long way.   Keep focussing on the positives

           While we do talk more about mental health, it still gets the short end of the wedge in focus.   According to Mick Cassell of Think Well, Live Well, 42% of employees pretend they have something physically wrong with them rather than admit to suffering stress.

            There is a lot of stress on your team.  They not only have their usual worries about performance, and their personal lives, now they have the stress of the uncertain economy and massive changes to the way we are running our daily lives.  As a convert to mindfulness myself, I was interested to see Mick’s work promoting mindfulness in the workplace as a way of preventing or easing stress levels with a little me time.

            His tips for team care include

  • ensuring the differentiation between home and work time
  • having walking meetings to ensure everyone does regular movement
  • maximizing offerings of water stations and healthy snacks to ensure no-one gets de-hydrated and brains well-fed
  • many experts have highly recommended yoga classes for a while as a stress-reliever.  They also have added health benefits, help breathing, which also reduces stress, and doing as a group activity can again help the team bond.   If you are all working at home, you can still set this up as a group activity with you all joining in.
  • Mick’s company also offers five-minute stress buster programs, including 5-Minute Zen and 5-Minute Instant Calmer.

Another mindfulness specialist is John Earls. John worked for over ten years as a lawyer before re-training as a Holistic Personal Trainer and Mindfulness Practitioner. His company, Satis, offers help to prevent and help burnout and stress, but currently are offering webinars for companies to help support you during COVID, involving care for yourself, your team, and productivity.

Don’t forget to look after yourself while looking after your team.  Not only join in the group yoga, and try the five-minute programs, but prioritize self-care in these punishing times.  That means eating well, getting enough exercise and sleep, and taking time to meditate daily, just to empty the brain and let it self-calm.


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