Employee management and well-being is no longer an option for the organizations but a priority. It is one of the critical aspects of the organization and is the key to retention.

Well-being is the holistic approach that aims at understanding the employee’s physical, emotional, mental, and social state. It makes sure that the employees are happy and productive at work. Although there is no prescribed way to deal with it or do this, we are trying to make few initiatives happen, thinking about what works best for our employees.

This pandemic acted as a wake-up call for the employers to consider the employees’ well-being initiatives like never before. Employers are bringing out the ‘employee well-being and emotional health’ to the forefront of the critical to-do list.

We look at some aspects of employee well-being at the heart of the situation and view ways to straddle this new challenge. This has reference to no particular industry or sector, no specific organization in my association. These are just my thoughts that inspire me to find possible solutions and hopefully, they would help you all –

As an employee / individual –

  • The lines between work-from-home have got the work and home division lines blurred and messed up. Maintain a schedule for yourself even though you wake up at the same time, follow the same schedule, find yourself a dedicated corner at home from where you would work every day. This might give us an office-like feeling
  • For many of us, children are at home – set their playtime, study-time & mealtime and try not to change that. It is new for the children to see their parents at home, but soon they will adjust
  • Pack yourself a meal/lunch box and snacks, just like you would do every day for work
  • Keep your lunch and snack/coffee breaks at the same time. As much possible, do not deviate from the schedule, unless necessary
  • Do regular exercise. This will keep your mind and body healthy. Also, meditate and eat healthy home-made food. Avoid junk food
  • Get ready and dress up properly, like you did when you went to the office. This will keep you motivated enough
  • Maintain proper work-life balance. Give your family equal time

The responsibility and ownership weighs more on the organization to bring about normalcy in the new work pattern/routine. Here are a few things an employer could evaluate acting upon to bring about the changes required –

  • The employers should re-evaluate the compensation and benefits strategy from the job execution hardship point of view. There is a huge market shift globally, therefore a review on the new normalization in compensation and benefits is needed.

  • This new normal has created several psychological issues. Anxiety, borderline to deep depression have been collateral damages due to the pandemic. Professionals like us cannot help each other cope with this. This requires specialization. Therefore, it is extremely important for organizations to now appoint health counselors. The counselor not only guides employees online with their health concerns, exercise and diet routines but also addresses the mental conditions. Employees must know that these are all anonymous conversations. Dealing with de-stigmatizing the issues concerning mental health could be tough at the moment considering the problems we all have to deal with now. Therefore, do not be objective on this aspect to review the outcome of this initiative, harvest it – this will take time to emerge as a winning employee well-being initiative

  • Employers should make sure that the work environment at home also supports physical well-being. Reach out to the employees, discuss with them their needs. Some employees stay in remotest of places or stay in containment zones, organisations should take initiatives to tie up with food suppliers to attempt helping employees. Organisation could provide products either subsidized or with discounts through their tie-ups with various e-commerce companies delivering necessities. Now that lockdowns have been lifted, situations may not be any better

  • People managers need to adapt themselves to new ways of communication. While communication has been the most critical aspect of managing people, it is a front runner skill set needed, at the moment, to be used utmost carefully. People managers need to adopt agility and utilize both formal and informal modes of communication.

  • Telephone calls need to be replaced with video calls. Body language and expressions are an important part of communication. In the absence of a personal meeting, the telephonic conversation could likely be misinterpreted or misunderstood. To avoid these misunderstandings a quick video call using WhatsApp, Facetime, etc. A face-to-face conversation is always preferred.

  • These testing times call for specialized training. Building compassion and resilience in leadership have become extremely important. Some of these specialized training also need to be imparted to all the employees. An attempt should be made to get industry stalwarts who have established themselves by going through trysts themselves. Their real-life learnings will create a larger impact on employees

  • Involve team members to decide important areas of skilling. Let employees decide on their areas of development and decide on online learning courses

  • Have team meets over lunch not just with team members but with their family members too. Have kids/family meet as you would do so in-person as ‘building emotional quotient initiative’

  • Most of the organizations and individuals are contributing to support others during this pandemic. If as an organization, it is decided to contribute towards a cause connected with the pandemic, allow the employees to voluntarily contribute towards the strategy to support the cause. This will make the employees feel valued and feel that they have meaningfully contributed to support the cause

  • Conduct the ‘Rewards and Recognition’ program online. Try to convert all the engagement practices that would otherwise be done in-person into online programs

  • Employees working from home are not available 24 X 7. Do not expect a stretch in work timelines on daily basis. Honour the office hours even if employees are working within the comforts of home. Schedule meetings well in advance – planning work / meetings are particularly important especially now since situations at home for employees is different from each other

While technology takes precedence in the current situation, managing employees still requires compassion and empathy!