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  • Anna Harrington

Sustain employee performance and wellbeing in acute high stress circumstances - tips

Objectives – to strengthen the team working, foster good emotion management that enables emotion stability, to avoid work exhaustion, platform confidence and beliefs of work effectiveness, have sensitive step away system for employees who are close to work exhaustion. To sustain cohesive team working for during and after the high stress period. The effects of how the organisation and individuals responded during the high stress period will be remembered.

At times of high work stress expectations of self and others increase. Not just volumes of work, but complexity, the need to rapidly learn new processes, be creative, remain appropriately emotionally responsive.

Additionally, often employees work beyond usual start and finish times, less likely to take formal breaks, very unlikely to take informal spontaneous momentary “breaks” away. Out of work routines and sleep could become disrupted, or less effective (same volume but quality lowered), increase of behaviours that are detrimental to health (smoking, drinking comfort eating) and find it more difficult to do behaviours that provoke good wellbeing such as meeting with friends (which has to largely be virtual at the moment), regular routine exercise, alcohol content within guidelines and balanced varied diet. Reasons for this can be linked with lowered motivation. fatigue and wanting to have quick rewards.

The work effects on individuals that may be seen are:

· Difficulty in remaining emotionally contained. Emotions may break free, overflow, be powerful, unexpected, not usual self, overwhelming.

· Concentration can be troublesome; more easily distracted

· Recall of information slower and forgetfulness occurring

· Hesitancy about decision and loss of being “sure of oneself” affecting confidence in work abilities and being able to cope well

· Slower to process complex of volumes of data

· Increase of errors

· Trust in each other will be tested

· Relationships could be impacted by emotions

These tips are for you to the consider relevance of, share within your organisation and adapt to your local circumstances.

· Have team pow wows just to talk about how the situation is affecting emotions, as much or as little as people want. Be flexible with attendance & aware that work demands when high are very difficult to pull away from.

· Share ideas of how people are keeping a health and wellbeing promoting activities going.

· As a priority resolve structural, process and equipment barriers to working. If not able to resolve rapidly inform of what is being done; give information that tells of what has been done, if possible, timescales of what will be done and if nothing can be done why and acknowledge the difficulties this leaves the individual with

· Give noticeable recognition of the emotional impact for instance explaining how high levels of work demands can affect emotions, behaviours and disrupt usual routines, as above.

· Some employees may be on the outskirts of being involved in the zone of high activity, check they are feeling a valued team member

· Work for short periods of time and take regular short breaks. This will aid concentration and sustain energy

· As a business have strict avoidance of consistent working over hours that impacts life outside of work

· Out of hours email - set expectations; strict avoidance or no expectation of reading/replying

· Involve your wellbeing champions/MHFA but recognise their limitations of knowledge and time

· Overtly protect family and personal time

· Up the frequency of positive feedback given to teams and individuals. Try to make it specific to the actions of the individual

· Set aside time to celebrate successes together. In preparation for this keep notes of success or helpful behaviours.

· Keep a very clear message of team and organisation common purpose; what are you trying to achieve and why?

· Formal breaks - insist employees to take and encourage going outside

· Give employees occasions to step away from doing constant new or fast work to doing slower and routine activity. This is to ease the brain demand of new and fast paced work.

· Encourage employees to be aware of early signs of a rise in adverse emotions. Your wellbeing champions/MHFA be able to do this. At that time for the employee to be allowed to take “time out”. Do relaxation here NHS videos, go for a walk outside if able, listen to music as a way to diffuse the intensity of emotion.

· Ensure your line managers are aware of how to approach employees with sensitivity and fairness who may be exhibiting signs of being too fatigued or emotionally overwhelmed.

· Promote the use of your EAP service if you have one.

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