It is certainly fair to say that small businesses have been highly affected by the global pandemic over the past year. From three lockdowns forcing businesses to shut up shop, furloughing staff, working from home, home schooling and the many other challenges that Covid-19 has brought upon us it is no wonder that business owners are finding team management a big topic of worry and concern.
It may not come as a surprise that poor mental health has risen dramatically over the past few months and with nearly 50% of the population now working from home, it may feel harder than ever to connect with and manage your employees as you normally would.
We should point out that there are in fact several positives to being a small business during the pandemic and it is something that we have seen many of our clients succeed at throughout 2020. As well as being quicker to respond to change due to less employees, small businesses are often unburdened by systems and processes and have the benefit of entrepreneurial business leaders who are adaptable and ready to think of new ways to make the company a success during unpredictable times.
However you made it to 2021 we want to give you a big pat on the back and guide you through the next 12 months with as much HR support and guidance as possible.
So, what are the biggest factors that we need to consider when it comes to successfully managing employees throughout the continuing pandemic?
1. Mental Health & Employee Wellbeing
Even before Covid-19 hit, research from the CIPD showed there were red flags about the impact work was having on wellbeing. Here at Whitcombe HR we have always taken employee wellbeing and mental health as a priority and it seems that the pressure to do more and more with less and less has had a big hit on the workforce.
Naturally, the fear of losing one’s job has played a big part on mental health, as well as financial worries, working from home and feeling isolated from community and work colleagues.
Employees that feel cast aside are going to feel the biggest effect and therefore it is so important to make sure that you reach out to all members of staff and treat everyone individually when it comes to managing mental health. It is much harder on a zoom call to notice someone’s mood and to notice the signs if someone isn’t coping and therefore the quality of your leadership and management has to be a key focus throughout 2021.
It is important that you consider performance and productivity to be strongly linked to workplace wellbeing and having a wellbeing support plan in place will ensure you do not let this fall to the wayside as we move further into the year. Knowing how to ask the right questions and finding out how people really are will be your key to a happy and successful team.
For a more detailed insight on looking after the mental health of your employees make sure you read our previous blog Ten simple steps to ensure you are looking after the mental health of your employees.
Our top tips include:
Looking after your own mental health first & lead by example
Create a wellness action plan
Invest in training
Show your staff that wellbeing matters to you
Make yourself and others available
Familiarise yourself with policies
Get to know your team
Implement wellbeing and mental health awareness every single day
Make reasonable adjustments
Prepare for return to work
To read the full blog click HERE.
2. Adopting new technology & providing the right resources for employees to work from home
It goes without saying that technology (or lack of) has been another huge factor when it comes to successfully managing a business and its employees throughout the pandemic.
Through necessity, many of us have had to move online and adapt quickly to new ways of using technology to succeed, however on the flip side something as simple as a working laptop and internet connection have created huge problems for some businesses not used to a workforce operating from home.
Nevertheless, there are many positives to adopting new technology into the workplace – from enhanced wellbeing and employee engagement to increased productivity and motivation. A team with the right resources is much more likely to feel confident that they can get the job done and therefore allow you to successfully manage the new normal.
With homeworking set to stay it is important that you take the time to consider how your company might benefit from improved technology and resources throughout 2021.
By no means does this mean that a computer will take the place of your valued employees, but instead enhance their homeworking experience and give you the opportunity to manage them more effectively whilst moving the business forward and keeping up with the ever-changing digital environment.
Don’t forget that it is your responsibility as an employer to look after the health, safety and welfare of your employees wherever they are working.
We would recommend creating a Home Working Policy to effectively ensure the safety and wellbeing of your employees which can cover everything from equipment and technology to risk assessments, insurance, security, and data protection.
If you would like help creating or updating your Homeworking Policy please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us by emailing email@example.com.
3. Measuring & Managing Employee Performance
Over the past few years we have seen some really positive shifts when it comes to measuring and managing team and employee performance.
A more open and honest conversation between employees and line managers, regular feedback, effective goal setting, and improved appraisal processes have all led to positive performance management and a framework that allows people to see what they need to do to progress and improve within the company.
With the onset of Covid-19 however, two scenarios have occurred. The first is that small businesses have not had enough time, or resources to focus on performance as they have been much more absorbed by issues such a furlough, homeworking and general survival. Understandably performance management has fallen to the bottom of the list.
The second scenario is that as business owners have had to concentrate so much on the survival of their business, their instinct has been to over-focus on performance and the pressure they are feeling has fed down to their employees in a negative way.
It is quite understandable why both scenarios have occurred and further COVID-19 related issues such as redundancies and a constantly changing workforce have not helped either.
Measuring your team’s performance going forward will have to be done with flexibility and as an ongoing dialogue to suit the current climate.
One of our main pieces of advice would be to focus on the positives and not the negatives. Even if you feel an employee is performing below standard, they should still leave the meeting feeling more motivated than when they went in. After all, as we mentioned before, effective performance management should enable employees to see what they need to do to progress and improve within the business, not focus on their downfalls and what they are doing wrong.
Try to trust your employees, especially when they are out of sight and working from home. People will perform if they are in the right job and benefiting from the right support. Over watching your employees can often be as harmful as forgetting to watch over them and is usually completely counterproductive.
Allowing them to work with autonomy and to come up with their own problems and solutions will ultimately lead to higher employee engagement and productivity (you can check out our most recent blog on how to motivate and energise your team by clicking HERE).
For any help on the topics discussed above please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at any time by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also reach us via the contact page on our website.