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How to support the wellbeing of employees in times of stress?

The last few years have been more stressful than normal for many. The uncertain global situation, with its corona pandemics and crises, has also affected the well-being experienced at work. In the workplace, there have been a lot of factors that affect the wellbeing of staff that cannot be directly influenced by them.

Although global crises cannot be resolved in the workplace, action can be taken in each workplace to support the wellbeing of workers at times of particular stress.

Employee wellbeing is one of the company's most important resources, so it's definitely worth investing in wellbeing at work. Exhausted and stressed employees are not only unwell, they are also unable to give their full potential to their work.

In the workplace, it is worth considering how to support the wellbeing of employees during particularly stressful times. Learn how the overall wellbeing of your staff can be supported during these difficult times.

The corona pandemic has put a strain on staff - it is worth investing in promoting wellbeing at work

Covid has brought uncertainty to people's lives and, as various studies show and many people know from their own experiences, it has also affected and left its mark on working life. Several studies have been conducted on the effects of Covid on working life and wellbeing at work. For example, according to the "How is Finland doing?" survey conducted by the National Institute of Occupational Health, job satisfaction and ability to work have deteriorated from the time before Covid. According to the study, the symptoms associated with burnout are also more common than it was before Covid.

Thus, the Covid period has undoubtedly affected the wellbeing experienced by employees. Although employers are unable to resolve global crises, they have the opportunity to provide their employees with support and assistance that can help them promote wellbeing at work despite the challenges.

How to support the wellbeing of staff?

Wellbeing is a broad entity that is affected by both work and non-work life.

Wellbeing can be defined in many different ways, but according to the World Health Organization (WHO), wellbeing consists of the mental, physical and social dimensions.

When looking at and developing the wellbeing of staff in the workplace, attention should also be paid to all three areas of wellbeing.

Support the mental wellbeing of staff during particularly stressful times

There are many ways to invest in mental wellbeing in the workplace, such as reasonable workload, interesting work assignments and good management, giving employees feedback on a job well done and showing appreciation for their work.

Fear of declining income and possible layoffs or unemployment may also have affected the wellbeing of staff during these special times. There are also changes in personal life, such as the illness of a loved one that affect mental wellbeing in such a way that it can also have effect on the way work is done.

In stressful times, it is worth paying attention to the fact that employees also have the opportunity to discuss non-work-related issues during their work.

In this case, employees can also discuss matters that are stressful and share experiences with each other. Encounters should be arranged between employees as well as between employees and supervisors.

In addition to moments of discussion and encounters, as well as social support, during particularly stressful times, you also support staff by ensuring that the employee has sufficient resources to do the job. In difficult times, an employee may not perform a normal workload.

The wellbeing of the mind can also be supported in the workplace by providing opportunities to engage in culture, crafts or some kind of activity, which can have a positive effect on the wellbeing of the mind.

In addition to mental wellbeing, physical and social wellbeing are part of the wellbeing as a whole. Here are some tips on how to support these areas of well-being in stressful times.

Supporting physical wellbeing at the workplace during stressful times

Exhaustion and stress can also be felt in the body physically. Common physical symptoms include:

- headache

- neck and shoulder tension

- persistent illness

- fatigue and sleep-related problems.

During particularly stressful times, staff can be offered access to body-care services such as massage or physiotherapy. The wellbeing of the mind also affects physical wellbeing, and a wellbeing mind enables a better night's sleep, for example.

Work ergonomics also play an important role in supporting physical wellbeing. Now at the latest, it would be a good idea to check that ergonomics have also been taken into account in employees' home offices. Those who do physical work should be provided with instructions and aids so that the work can be performed as ergonomically as possible.

In stressful times, the decline in wellbeing is perhaps best reflected in the wellbeing of the mind. Encourage staff to pause their work by getting some fresh air, have a small break excercise, or short runs - this is good not only for physical wellbeing, but also for the mind.

Also, be sure to set an example yourself. Make your own break exercises and lunch runs visible within the work community. This makes it easier for employees to take breaks and get some fresh air as part of their own working day - lead by example that some meetings can be held whilst having a walk in nature.

Social wellbeing at work as part of wellbeing

Interpersonal relationships and belonging to different groups are an important part of social wellbeing. A person inherently needs to connect with others and the work community forms one group to which the employee wants to feel they belong and become accepted.

Workplace interactions, their activity and networks are related to social wellbeing. Remote working and home-office workers who meet their colleagues only via screens have challenges in the emergence and maintenance of interactions and the formation of groups.

Covid started remote work wave - remote work has challenged social wellbeing

Remote work has challenged many workday practices, but perhaps most importantly: staying home has reduced encounters and face-to-face interactions during the workday.

Many networks have shrunken as a result of the transition to remote work, and new employees, for example, may have had difficulty entering the work community.

Particular attention should be paid during the induction phase to getting employees involved in the work community. Sociality, interaction between co-workers and the social support they get from them can be needed especially when life is stressful.

Tips for promoting social wellbeing in straining times

1. Allow off-the-job chats at work, arrange coffee breaks, have lunch together, or start meetings with an exchange of personal news.

2. Ask members of the work community how they are.

3. Listen and understand - give members of the work community enough time to recover from strain and stress.

These tips may seem obvious, but they should not be forgotten. As with any other activity, set an example yourself.

Attention should also be paid to how employee community is supported now that people are starting to return to the offices. Hybrid work has come to stay at many jobs, so it’s still worthwhile to develop ways to support and develop doing, sharing, and experiencing together — both present and remote.

Take care of your employees during busy periods and improve wellbeing at work

While attention should be paid to the overall wellbeing and improvement of employee wellbeing on a daily basis, it is particularly important in times of stress.

The role of management and supervisors, together with human resource management, is to act as enablers of wellbeing, and by no means to create policies or practices that can create barriers to the wellbeing of staff.

Start the journey towards a wellbeing work community in small steps and if you are already well on your way, continue the development work you have started. Learn more about the features of the Vointy Wellness application and how it can increase the well-being of your organization.


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