New Zealand is in the midst of another COVID-19 lockdown, and businesses across the country are navigating extraordinary challenges while working within various alert levels. While essential service providers are battling to keep up with demand, other businesses are struggling to stay afloat, and many are operating as best they can with a home-based workforce in the Auckland Region. Yes, we’ve been here before – but it doesn’t make the task any less daunting or demanding.
To keep businesses moving forward through these ultra-challenging times, engaging with your teams is vital. For many employees, stress and anxiety levels will be escalated, and those working from home may be facing a multitude of hurdles, from sharing workspaces with family members to juggling childcare and worrying about finances.
That’s why the team at Safety ‘n Action believes simple actions like checking in regularly with your staff is so important.
“The environment we are all currently in exposes staff and businesses to some quite different health and safety risks, particularly when it comes to mental health,” says Safety ‘n Action’s National Trainer Director Nicholas Matzopulous (Nick).
“The bonds and friendships people forge in the workplace contribute positively to productivity, job satisfaction and a positive mindset. Working from home changes this and can lead to feelings of loneliness, isolation and lack of motivation.”
By connecting and engaging regularly with teams, employers, managers and supervisors can play an important role in boosting morale, improving staff wellbeing, and maintaining productivity.
“It’s about much more than just communicating with employees to outline work tasks and outputs. Encourage staff to also maintain their social workplace connections through video chats, friendly calls and daily check-ins. Agree with some ‘work from home team rules’ that work for everyone in your team, and keep the conversation flowing to manage expectations. Employers need to accept that working-from-home success might look quite different than it does in the workplace. The usual performance targets or time-based approach may just not be appropriate right now.”
Poor work environment, poor work design and a lack of social connections all pose mental health risks for those working from home, and endeavoring to set up a healthy workspace is an important first step – especially if we’re looking down the barrel of a lengthy lockdown.
WorkSafe NZ has plenty of useful tips to help those working from home make the working week more bearable and productive. These include:
In fact, according to Nick, boosting online learning while teams are working from home brings a raft of benefits. Not only does it add some structure into employees’ workdays, but it helps gear up the workforce so they can hit the ground running when restrictions ease.
“Lockdown can be a great time for staff to complete online courses such as all-important safety training. Safety obligations don’t stop or go away just because we’re at Level 4 or Level 3 – it’s important to keep workplace safety front and centre.”
Safety ‘n Action has industry leading digital training programmes that can help businesses stay on top of their health and safety training needs as we move together through the pandemic. From programmes that support essential businesses to keep their teams and workplaces safe, through to virtual classrooms (webinars) and remote learning opportunities that ensure those currently working from home can meet all their health and safety requirements when they’re back at work. And right now is the perfect time to make the most of them.
Explains Nick, “It’s often hard to see a way forward when you’re scrambling to keep your teams engaged and preparing to get back out there, but lockdown can actually be an ideal time to focus on workplace health and safety.”
Mental health and wellbeing are an integral part of that, and the need for teams to feel valued and supported is possibly greater now than it’s ever been.
According to depression.org.nz, a vast number of the population are feeling stressed, anxious, overwhelmed and uncertain – and that’s absolutely normal given the global situation. Luckily, they offer plenty of great tips and tricks to help people stay connected and take care of their wellbeing during these difficult times. Here are a few ideas:
For flexible training when it suits you, view our online course options
Take advantage of our unique digital training solutions.
For more accessible health and safety training for business or for yourself, check out our range of self-directed webinar courses.