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The New Norm Is Overwhelming. How Can You Engage and Support Employees Effectively During the COVID-19 Pandemic?

Posted April 15, 2020 by CHC Wellbeing. Filed under WORKPLACE WELLNESS, WELLNESS, IMPROVING WELLBEING, CORONAVIRUS, COVID-19

Individuals and families across our country are battling physical and financial crises, either directly or indirectly linked to COVID-19. Meanwhile, activity levels are dropping, feelings of isolation are increasing, and emotional concerns such as stress & anxiety are running rampant.

While everyone is adjusting to the new norm, many employers are struggling to keep their workforces engaged during these unprecedented times. To ensure that employees feel supported, an organization’s overall engagement strategy must address physical, emotional, social, and financial wellbeing. That’s true when things are right with the world. It is even more true when everything has been turned upside down.

Below are some ideas and strategies for engaging your employees across all four domains of wellbeing during the pandemic. Effectively caring for, and supporting, your workforce now is incredibly important to your culture and your organization’s ability to weather this storm.

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  • Get active together. Staying active these days may look slightly different than before but there are still a ton of ways to get your employees moving!
    • Encourage participation in the CHC FitFamily Challenge Group.
    • Attend a YouTube fitness class as a team. There are tons of great channels like PopSugarand Blogilates to choose from.
    • Promote some of the premium workout apps that are currently offering free access such as Peloton, Nike Training Club, Corepower Yoga, DownDog, etc.
    • Offer a "Work Out Wednesday" class via Zoom, Teams, Skype, etc and have employees volunteer to lead with their favorite at-home exercises.
  • Bingo! Create a bingo card with various wellbeing activities such as going for a walk, viewing a CHC webinar, meditating for 10 minutes, drinking green smoothies, and posting to the CHC message board.
  • Challenge them! Gamification is a key part of engagement. Reach out to your CHC account manager to find out how you can setup a challenge using the resources on your CHC portal. Examples:
    • Walking/Steps Challenges - "The Quarantine Shuffle"
      • Get out of the house and take charge of your step count! Participants that average 5,000 steps/day throughout the shelter-in-place orders will be entered into a raffle for XX.
    • Activity Challenge - "Move More In April"
      • Exercise can improve your mental health, boost brain function, reduce your risk of heart disease, lower your blood sugar, improve your sleep, and much more! In honor of "Move More Month" - GET UP & MOVE! Participants that log activity 30mins/day, 5x/week will be entered into a raffle for XX.
    • Sleep Challenge - "Catch Some Z's"
      • Stress and anxiety can make it difficult to sleep but getting enough sleep each night is a crucial part of your overall wellbeing, including your immune system's ability to fight. According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults need 7+ hours of sleep each night. Participate in the “Catch Some Z’s” challenge to ensure you’re meeting your healthy sleep goals!
    • Hydration Challenge
      • Drinking enough water helps to regulate your body temperature, prevents infections, and keeps your vital organs functioning properly. Participants that log 64oz of water per day throughout the quarantine will be entered into a raffle for XX. 
  • Share your workspace. With a large portion of the workforce working from home, it’s important to encourage your team to designate a workspace. This can lead to increased productivity and attention.
    • Encourage your team to get creative and make their own standing work desk. Share pictures to inspire others!
    • “Guess The Workspace Challenge” – have employees submit pictures of their workspace and then everyone guesses who the workspace belongs to.
  • Embrace the binge. There is no getting around it, binge watching is bound to happen. While binge watching can provide the stress relief and much needed distraction, it also encourages a decrease in physical activity. Encourage employees to craft their own workout plan based on the most binge-worthy shows and share with all other employees. Example:
    • Live TV - Do 20 squats at each commercial break + a 30 second plank
    • Tiger King - Do 10 push ups every time Carol wears a flower crown, Do 20 lunges every time you see a tiger cub, Do 20 crunches every time one of Joe's music video is shown
    • Bonus Points: Use Netflix Party to link up your team while binge watching AND working out!

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  • Get them talking! Facilitate conversation amongst team members on your CHC Message Board, a company intranet, Microsoft Teams, Slack, or another shared space that all employees can access. Provide discussion topics or basic questions that will allow conversation to flow from team members. Encourage managers to take the lead on these discussions. Examples of topics/prompts:
    • What is your favorite healthy meal/snack? Bonus points if you share the recipe!
    • What is your favorite exercise that can be done at home with no equipment? Let's get those HEALTHY SELFIES coming in!
    • Being connected and maintaining healthy relationships is very important to your overall wellbeing. Show us your favorite quarantine-mate, send us a selfie with your pets, kids, spouse, or anyone! #socialdistancingwithlovedones
    • Create a list of things which make you happy. Share 5 things on your ‘Happy List’. Bonus points if you share pictures! 
    • Research shows that playing games can enhance our social and emotional wellbeing. What is your favorite game (board game, video game, card game, etc)?
    • For many people, Netflix can be a great source of stress relief and relaxation. What's the most bingeworthy show you've been watching?
  • Happy Hour! You can still follow social distancing guidelines while offering a virtual happy hour. Encourage employees to join (via Zoom, Teams, Google Hangouts, etc) with their favorite drink. Have an activity prepared such as:
    • Company trivia - Each employee submits an interesting/surprising fact about themselves and everyone has to guess who the fact is about
    • Baby pictures - Have employees submit a photo of themselves as babies/toddlers and everyone guesses who the photo belongs to
  • Partner up. Encourage employees to partner up with an accountability buddy. This can be someone who helps them stay active, meet their work goals, and to stay connected.

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  • Provide the right tools. The financial wellbeing platform on your CHC member portal has a robust COVID-19 library covering topics such as:
    • Government resources
    • Managing your investments
    • Student loans
    • Financial planning for an uncertain future 

How is your organization helping employees stay well during the COVID-19 pandemic? What’s working for your population? We’d love to hear from you. Also, just a reminder that your CHC account manager is standing by to collaborate on an overall engagement strategy that will keep your company strong and healthy during this uncertain time. Please reach out today if you need help determining how to make the most of your CHC member portal or for brainstorming creative ways to engage your workforce.

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