Over the past few months workplaces across Australia have changed dramatically due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. For some, it’s meant transitioning to working from home, and for others there are some rigorous new restrictions and practices in place. However, one thing that remains true for all workplaces is the importance of employee health and wellbeing.
As we look ahead, each workplace will adapt uniquely to its ‘new normal’ with opportunities and challenges presenting themselves along the way. The Achievement Program is here to help your workplace support employee health and wellbeing through this journey and beyond. The below actions have been informed by the National Workplace Health and Wellbeing Community of Practice (WHWCP) alliance, which we’re a member of.
Workplace leaders are encouraged to regularly and clearly communicate with workers on health, wellbeing and safety. By setting a positive example it will provide confidence and assurance to workers, as well as the opportunity to be compassionate and understanding in the context of a changing situation. Beyond Blue, a leading mental health and wellbeing organisation, has written a good article on how managers can lead the way to healthy work environments. To see leadership in action, read the initiatives leaders in workplaces such as VicHealth, the Burnet Institute and Peninsula Health have introduced.
- Consult and communicate
Genuine two-way communication with workers will help them work effectively from remote locations or under new restrictions. And when the time comes to transition back into the workplace, regular communication will be as equally important. Workplaces must note that under the Workplace Health and Safety legislation, consultation with employees is a requirement. For further tips, read this short article on 5 tips for communicating with employees during a crisis by the Harvard Business Review. To gain access to the Achievement Program employee health and wellbeing survey or health and wellbeing newsletter template, sign up to our free program.
- Promote healthy habits
Some employees may have adopted healthier habits throughout the health pandemic while others have taken on some unhealthy habits such as increasing their alcohol consumption or being more sedentary. Workplaces should encourage their workers to continue or implement healthy habits, for example preparing a healthy lunch rather than relying on take away, following the recommended guidelines for drinking alcohol and striving to keep active and take short breaks throughout the day.
Check out our ‘how to guides’, which contain key health messages and images you can include in workplace email updates, newsletters or on the intranet. The guides cover health topics such as healthy eating, mental health and wellbeing, physical activity, and more.
- Support mental health and wellbeing
Common consequences of disease outbreaks include anxiety and panic, depression, anger, confusion and uncertainty, and financial stress. Acknowledging these feelings should be a first port of call for workplaces. Understanding that some workers will be looking forward to returning to the workplace and others will be reluctant, calls for clear communication on the support services available and the need to have a strategy in place to identify and support workers’ mental ill-health.
Visit our Wellbeing Library for hand-picked, trusted resources to support workers’ mental health and wellbeing.
If your organisation is dedicated to promoting mental health and wellbeing, sign up to our free program and complete our mental health and wellbeing health area. You’ll gain access to an online portal housing trusted mental health and wellbeing resources, toolkits and information.
- Offer flexibility and work-life balance
As workers’ personal lives and work lives have become disrupted, particular with many families balancing the challenges of remote learning for children and teenagers, workplaces should consider how they can offer more flexibility to the traditional workday. Some workers will be reluctant to lose the work-life balance and productivity gains they’ve had in the current working arrangements, and workplaces should consider how they can embed more flexibility into work schedules. For example, flexible working hours or focusing on target-based outcomes rather than time-based.