How to support your employees’ wellbeing this winter

Without a doubt, this year’s festive period is going to look completely different to what we’re used to. We’re all going to have to go without plenty of the traditions and rituals that we usually enjoy around this time of year. While we still don’t know how the big day itself will turn out, adding this to a year that’s already been filled with uncertainty and change, it’s safe to assume that many of your employees will be needing additional support at this time.

Whilst it’s important to remember that people are responsible for their own wellbeing, workplaces are also responsible for managing psychosocial risk factors. These include high workloads and tight deadlines, all of which will have a direct impact on employees’ mental wellbeing. Now more than ever it’s crucial that workplaces devise a culture where employees can access the support and help they need if they choose to.

Here are a few ways you can support your employees’ wellbeing this winter.

Understand what you’re trying to achieve

Firstly, it’s important to understand what is meant by wellbeing. Some workplaces don’t fully grasp the concept, and it ultimately means different things to different people. So, as an employer, you will need to identify what you mean by it, what good looks like and how you can improve your own workplace wellbeing. It’s vital that workplaces and managers are knowledgeable on the support services that are available to staff, so they can feel confident enough to signpost people to various strategies of support if and when they are thought to be needed. Encouraging people to take rest, breaks and holidays, as well as weaving the focus of wellbeing into team meetings and companywide communications, are vital ways of ensuring your wellbeing policies are at the forefront.

Ask what will help them

We know this Christmas is going to be different. Workplaces need to acknowledge this, and ask their employees what they need, and what will help them at this time. Instead of a traditional top down approach, where employers give their staff what they think they will need, it’s important to develop a culture of asking people what would be helpful for them. Doing this will also give a voice to minorities in an organisation, or any groups that are often marginalised or not involved in these kinds of conversations.

Celebrating should be voluntary

Like everything else, the classic work Christmas party is going to look very different this year, and even though it could be held virtually, it’s important to ensure that there is no pressure for your employees to attend. Making it voluntary will alleviate any pressure, and remove the stigma surrounding those who are unable or unwilling to attend, for whatever reason.

Christmas isn’t for everybody

One thing that often gets forgotten around this time of year is that Christmas isn’t for everybody. We live in an ethnically diverse society and we often position Christmas as a huge milestone for all of us, when in many cases, it isn’t. For others, celebration might be far from their minds as they could be having to deal with grief and other difficult emotions at this time. Do bear this in mind when communicating your festive plans, as you don’t want to alienate and isolate any of your employees.

2021 planning

Are you able to communicate your plans for 2021 now? Giving your employees something to look forward to will go a long way towards ensuring their maintained buy-in and engagement. In uncertain times like these, where job losses are all too common, wellbeing commitments and business plans will help people feel secure and motivated.

Now more than ever, burnout is high among employees. Thanks to the restrictions we’ve faced this year, many of us have cancelled holidays and opted instead to stay at home and work. It’s important to remember we are living in an incredibly stressful environment – a global pandemic – and our bodies and minds need time to repair, rest and get ready for what’s still to come.

With this in mind, we have to ensure our employees’ wellbeing is not being put on the backburner during this year’s festive season. It needs to be playing a vital role in our operations, especially at this time in the year, with heightened emotions and the real uncertainty of what Christmas 2020 will look like.

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