As a manager, nothing takes the place of being able to personally interact with each member of your team. You’re able to assess strengths and weakness, determine work styles and you’re also able to observe habits and routines. For the latter, it’s easy to make note of incidents that deviate from that standard. For example, when your ever-punctual star player snaps a perfect attendance record and suddenly makes being tardy the norm, it’s easy to pick up on that sign and discuss it with them. Likewise, if you notice a team member who is typically a buttoned-up employee start to show up to work unorganized with a disheveled appearance, you can interpret these visual cues and take steps to get that employee back on track.
Now that most companies are still largely working with a fully-remote team, many of the advantages of in-person interaction have been stripped away. Your friends and colleagues have likely joked about the fact that one can hop on a Zoom meeting in sweatpants or pajamas bottoms and no shoes, and nobody is the wiser because the camera is only focused on the shoulders up. While certainly funny, it speaks to the flexibility that employees have with their habits and appearance while working remotely. It also illustrates the fundamental difficulty facing managers trying to maintain employee well-being remotely – you simply cannot trust what you see. Signs of burnout and depression can be noticed more easily during daily in person interactions in the office. When working remotely, it’s much easier to disguise these struggles as workers can roll out of bed and be “camera ready” within minutes. Even worse, if your team doesn’t hold regular meetings first thing in the morning, you may not be able to determine when a particular employee starts working at all.
There are certain measures you can implement to help you identify and address problems when dealing with the well-being of your workforce.
- Establish a daily company-wide routine. As mentioned previously, a short morning meeting at the beginning of the workday can benefit you in a number of ways. Most importantly, you’ll be able to determine who is and isn’t ready to report for duty at the starting time your company has designated. If you notice habitual tardiness or absence, you can address that individual personally. But you also provide your employees with a much-needed opportunity to socialize and feel like a part of the team.
- Encourage or even incentivize physical activity among employees. We’ve all heard of “The COVID Nineteen,” a reference to the weight gain phenomenon experienced by many as we shut in and hunkered down to protect ourselves from the virus. Now with the end in sight and workers beginning to resume lives that somewhat resemble their lives pre-pandemic, many are looking for the motivation to get healthier in anticipation of social outings, concerts, and more. Many managers and business owners are using this opportunity to be open about their own struggles, which can provide opportunities to form stronger relationships through related experiences and office support groups.
- Keep it personal – always. Even if you have regular team meetings on a weekly basis, you should always plan to communicate with each team member one on one. Make time as your schedule allows you to have personal interactions with your team, whether those be scheduled as one on one Zoom calls or a less formal reach out just to gauge their happiness and wellness. It’s easy for employees to escape notice on calls featuring dozens of talking heads on a single screen. Reach out to them personally to ensure that nobody’s feedback is missed. This will go a long way with your team members.
- Plan for informal virtual team gatherings focused on fellowship and team building. Working remotely can be an extremely lonely situation for many people. Not everyone lives with family or friends, and the lack of human interaction can wage devastation on employees’ mental health. Block out company time for everyone to gather via Zoom, catch up, laugh, celebrate birthdays and holidays, and just generally get to know each other. If your company is large, set up breakout rooms for team members to get to know each other in a smaller, more intimate group setting. Prepare with fun questions, icebreaker exercises or topics beforehand, and let the conversation flow.
As with all things related to management, addressing the physical and mental needs of your workforce is no easy task. Following the advice laid out above will lay the foundation for helping you manage your team’s wellness, but staying committed to these tips and executing a plan can be immensely challenging for managers and business owners juggling several other priorities. If you need a partner in developing a strategy to address your company’s unique needs, look no further than Cisso Bean & Dutch. Call (205) 542-8881 to get started today.