Kristina Billings, Founder of [email protected], has created this article as part of our Locimo Experts series.
While some industries such as communications, recruitment, health and tech thrived during COVID-19, others like tourism, hospitality and retail have taken a massive hit financially and in terms of team morale and general wellbeing.
Forced to close doors time after time again, the effects of the pandemic on employees across these sectors have extended past the financial ramifications.
One of the biggest challenges faced by employers across those sectors in decline has been trying to keep employees engaged, connected and healthy during the unprecedented crisis.
It has been interesting to observe the varying ways organisations have responded to the crisis and adopted methods to keep workers and managers connected, engaged and motivated during the pandemic.
Boosting team morale with remote social events
Some organisations have kept workers connected during lockdown by holding remote team events like virtual Friday drinks, game nights, trivia and cooking classes over Zoom or similar.
These kinds of activities were a great way to stay 'together' while physically apart. Other ways of staying connected were book or movie 'clubs', where employees would all read the same book or watch the same film each week and debrief over Zoom.
Using the time to upskill or train the team
Many managers took the downtime as a positive opportunity to invest in reskilling or upskilling their employees in various areas of the business.
Paying for staff to learn from online courses meant that, when it was business as usual, the team had a fresh set of skills to bring to the table or found themselves enjoying different roles than previously.
Mental and physical wellbeing
To assist organisations struggling to deal with a mass drop in team morale and general wellbeing as a result of the COVID-19 impacts on their businesses, we developed an online [email protected] dashboard to keep employees from the industries that were hit hardest connected even when their stores, restaurants or bars were shut.
Leading retailers like Country Road engaged with the online dashboard, saying their favourite elements included the nutritious recipes on the dashboard, the "Spine & Back" health webinars and health information.
Another merchant that reaped the benefits of the dashboard is Body Shop, saying employees provided positive feedback about the live classes such as those focusing on improving posture, breathing and mindfulness.
The way forward
It is so relieving to see that, as Australia slowly returns to some kind of normal, the retail and hospitality sector are beginning to get back on its feet.
We can only hope the positives to come out of COVID like investing and supporting the wellbeing of employees, and checking in on each other, don’t fall to the wayside once the storm clears.
By continuing to place extra focus on supporting the wellbeing of employees, we can ensure Australia continues to move in the right direction.
Kristina is passionate about improving the health and wellbeing of Australian workplaces. With more than 14 years’ experience she has a reputation for understanding the issues impacting employees and developing wellness initiatives and customised programs that make a difference. She is a trusted wellness advisor to many well-known Australian and global organisations.
In recent years she has focused her personal and professional development on mental health. Specifically, how Health at Works’ services can give employees and leaders the skills to identify, manage and improve their own mental health and to support the mental health of their colleagues and teams. With 1 in 5 Australian’s experiencing mental health issues this is such important work.