2020 hasn’t been the easiest of years for anyone, and as we slowly hopefully come out of the pandemic, it will be important to reflect on what might facilitate the transformation towards leading a more ‘normal’ life in the future. One of this year’s major lessons might be that mental health and morale are of utmost importance to everyone – including business leaders.
While individuals were dealing with the lack of social interaction on a private level, organisations were suddenly faced with a multitude of challenges too, one being that of their staff working remotely. Strong leaders were quick to accept change and channel efforts into promoting mental health and putting in place wellness supports for their employees. What lessons can we learn about what should be done by businesses to boost team morale and foster mental wellness among a workforce that is likely to keep working remotely at least to some extent for years to come?
Communication is key
This well-known mantra has always been valid and important, but it is arguably more so now, as businesses are suddenly having to deal with teams working remotely, whether locally, nationally or globally. Good communication will not only keep employees informed of a company’s priorities, but it will make them feel valued. Employees need to be seen and heard, and their differences need to be understood. After all, individuals deal with the same circumstances in different ways, and additional support where needed can really help to glue a team together when new challenges arise.
One of the key factors to consider when thinking about good communication strategies is localisation – especially if you’re the head of a big organisation with teams located or hailing from all over the globe. To make everyone feel part of something bigger, translation can help, but localised content is likely to be even more effective. Producing newsletters in different languages, for example, or localising and creatively adapting certain parts of your internal communication, can alleviate fears and foster trust in regional teams that sit far away from each other. This also ties in the awareness of cultural sensitivities among certain groups, religions and cultures, which is an important pillar of good internal communication.
The importance of connection
If you’ve previously failed to take seriously the importance of fostering connection, fun and laughter in your organization, now is the time to start. During lockdown, many employees struggled to feel part of something – inevitably, perhaps, as a result of losing contact with people. But this feeling can easily be overcome if leaders learn to emphasise coming together; virtual team meetings and Zoom quizzes, for example, can help create shared, happy moments. Encouraging some fun and laughter not only contributes to individual wellbeing, but also to the future survival of the business.
Alleviating individual fears
Last but not least, it’s worth mentioning another important reality for big multinationals: that staff from different parts of the world might be missing their friends and families back home even more than usual as a result of not being able to travel to see them. Described by many emigrants as an intense form of grief, this is worth being aware of when drafting internal communication policies and designing new documents.