The COVID-19 pandemic has forced an enormous number of changes on the way we all live and work within a very short time. It hasn’t been easy and a full economic and social recovery may take years. But for many individuals and workplaces, the lockdown also provides an opportunity to review the way they work and reassess their options for when things get back to some sort of normality.
Many practices were impacted by the lockdown, and practices had to adapt quickly to providing services in a different way, working to meet the expectations of patients and clients under extraordinary circumstances. These pressures can take their toll on practice staff and it’s important to think about their resilience and well-being at times like these.
There are lots of small things you can do within your practice to maintain staff wellbeing
Say thank you for a job well done, regularly
As a practice owner or manager, one of the most effective things you can do to improve the wellbeing and resilience of your staff is to regularly show your appreciation for their work. It sounds simple but it makes a huge difference – even if you only spend a few minutes at the start of team meetings, highlighting four or five positive things that have happened around the practice since the previous meeting. And if a staff member isn’t happy about their progress in a certain area, focus on the positive – remind them how much they have achieved, rather than commiserate over what they haven’t.
Think about what could be done differently next time, rather than who was at fault
Of course, problems are going to crop up from time to time. One approach to dealing with these situations is to try to depersonalise it. Rather than apportioning blame to an individual, it is a good idea to step back and see whether the problem could be a fault in the systems and processes you have, or whether a similar problem in future could be avoided by tweaking your processes.
Communicate often, and remember it’s a two-way street
It’s also important to communicate well with your staff and regularly ask them how they’re getting on and whether they need help with anything. Hopefully, this will help your staff feel comfortable to speak up when things are getting difficult, allowing you to head off problems before they become insurmountable. In return, you need to ensure your staff know what you expect of them. Provide clear position descriptions with expected outcomes, give them achievable goals and make sure they have the resources required to attain them.
Resilient staff take their lead from resilient managers
Good leadership is a key factor in building resilient teams. Team leaders and managers need to be strong and committed to getting the job done but also be open, honest and compassionate in their dealings with their teams. When your practice is going through challenging times, it’s important to remember that it’s tough on everyone, and your staff will only be able to do their jobs well if they’re feeling confident in themselves and the practice.
Ultimately, their mental health and wellbeing is something staff need to take responsibility for but a well-timed word or thoughtful gesture from their manager can do wonders. At the very least, you need to be aware that your staff deal with stress in different ways and may need extra support at work. This may include directing them to the appropriate agencies where mental health support is available.
From a business perspective, your practice also needs to be set up in such a way to have the management structure and financial strength to survive setbacks. This can be achieved by thorough planning and risk assessment. All practices should undertake a regular budgeting and planning process, have a business continuity plan and review insurances covers to make sure all contingencies are covered should a worst-case scenario eventuate.
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