As many of us head into week three of lockdown, some colleagues will inevitably start to struggle with their wellbeing and mental health, as they continue to juggle personal and professional life. People managers will be critical during this time as they will be the ones who will be maintaining regular contact with their teams. But how can we, as communicators, make sure they have the support they need to do their role effectively.
- If you don’t have a relationship with your HR team then I strongly suggest you start to connect and build relations. The HR team likely have policies, guidance and support in place to help colleagues who need some help. Working in collaboration will ensure that you are kept in the loop and are involved in conversations at the highest level.
- It’ll be your people managers who will be in regular contact with their employees, so make sure they have all the information they need to support them. Try to create an online space on your intranet or ESN where line managers can access things easily. Things like wellbeing guides, how to have difficult conversations, absence policies etc. so they do not have to search through lots of documents. Also, make sure that managers are comfortable with the policies, and they know how to deal with critical issues such as sickness and sadly, managing the death of an employee. This is where your HR team will hopefully be able to support you.
- It can be easy to lose track of who you’ve spoken to and when especially if you have a large team. Encourage managers to keep a record of the calls they’ve made and note how that colleague was feeling at the time. I’d also make it clear to the broader workforce that line managers will be contacting them regularly to make sure they are coping and doing ok. However, line managers mustn’t be checking up on people or micromanaging them. Work with your HR team to create a short check-list on the questions managers should consider asking when they call members of their team.
- Recognition and appreciation are important during this time. It’s probably more crucial now than it has been before. Make sure managers celebrate good work and thank colleagues for their support. There are some creative ways managers can thank their team such as e-vouchers (if budget allows), handwritten thank you cards which they can photograph and send to their teams, a virtual coffee/chat for 10 minutes etc.
- Remember to check-in on people managers as well, especially senior leaders. Often this group can be forgotten, so make sure your top execs are aware of what’s going on and nudge them (if needed) to keep in touch with their leads.
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