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5 ways to prioritise your team's well-being during Covid-19

There are thousands of global businesses, explains Jellyfish SA MD Charmaine Kelly, but at Jellyfish we believe we're one that's closely connected to every person, in every department, in every city, wherever they may be, around the world.
Photo credit: Chris Montgomery | Unsplash
Photo credit: Chris Montgomery | Unsplash

Given the industry repercussions of Covid-19, we’ve seen brands and agencies facing budgets cuts or having to redirect their marketing strategies. These unexpected changes and uncertainties can have serious mental health implications for self-isolating staff members.

First and foremost, we believe that taking care of your employee’s well-being is paramount to good business and makes visible the core values of the Jellyfish brand. After all, it’s your people who are going to see you through these tough times.

Charmaine Kelly: MD Jellyfish South Africa
Charmaine Kelly: MD Jellyfish South Africa

We’re a progressive company with a dynamic culture. That means we’re committed to actionable measures when it comes to employee safety, job satisfaction and happiness.

Like many companies, we’re taking all the necessary precautions when it comes to compliance in our Durban and Johannesburg offices and although returning has been offered on a voluntary basis, our offices are currently closed following the recent presidential address, where our entire team are now working from home for their safety.

5 ways you can make your employee’s well-being a priority

Keeping your staff healthy extends beyond taking physical precautions. We have a brilliant team of global HR practitioners who, along with our senior leadership, have developed robust strategies and new resources to assist our remote-operating staff during these challenging times.

1) Provide support

I cannot stress enough the importance of providing visible support to your employees. People may be feeling overwhelmed, depressed, frustrated or lonely. As a business, you have a role to play in addressing their well-being by offering constructive coping strategies.

I strongly recommend setting up a dedicated team who can help your staff be better equipped and prepared for any challenge they may face. For me, it was about ensuring our staff in South Africa felt supported, informed, happy and empowered. During the first few (extremely uncertain) weeks of lockdown, I set up daily full office video calls that served to talk through any issues that might have come up, clear up uncertainties, have a casual chat and make sure everyone had a chance to connect with the broader team. Our global business also formed a response team and our CEO Rob Pierre regularly addresses the business.

Avoid guesswork. We’ve conducted anonymous mood surveys over the past few months, not only to find out where there may be challenges or concerns on the ground but also, more importantly, to ensure our employees are being heard. These are proving extremely valuable in our drive to focus on employee well-being.

2) Stay connected

Jellyfish culture is already one of global collaboration, so staying connected remotely was something everyone was used to. However, we initiated a few additional techniques that we believe contribute to successful remote collaboration, like ensuring video is on as much as possible and encouraging our clients to do the same.

Lean on your IT or technical support team to ensure everyone has the facilities, software or hardware they need to work from home effectively. This could mean offering to pay for data bundles or allowing property, like printers or monitors to go home with your staff.

Jellyfish even recognised the challenge that many parents were facing under lockdown and so provided remote assistance with software installation for children’s online classrooms.

3) Acknowledge challenges and innovate

Be constructive. Because it’s business unusual, we have to find new ways to address challenges that may arise. Don’t expect your staff to ‘just get on with it’. Not only is this attitude unreasonable, but it could also prove very stressful and counterproductive.

Encourage your team members to identify problems they may be facing due to these altered working conditions or industry changes. This way you can assess the situation and proactively seek out adaptations or innovative solutions to counter the problem. Supporting staff with the right resources and providing inclusivity to decision making is very empowering.

In our commitment to facilitate a collaborative recurring meeting, where teams would usually break into groups to brainstorm, we gave particular attention to the structure of the calendar invites and feedback framework to create these breakaway areas virtually. By putting effort into planning and preparation, and always keeping overall experience top of mind, you will keep your teams engaged and motivated.

4) Put your team first

Like all businesses when Covid-19 first hit, we took measures to ensure our survival while doing our best to avoid staff redundancies. By putting our people first and driving the message that we are in this together, we really drew the best out of our team and, as a result, not only managed to avoid redundancies but we are also now in a position to expand in certain areas, allowing us to provide opportunities to even more people passionate about digital in SA.

Knowing that I have lived through a monumental historic event is one thing, but it is the display of human courage and comradery I witnessed from our global Jellyfish team, that I will never forget. It really does reinforce the message that putting your team first should always be your priority.

5) Make time for fun

Consider the fact that your employees are isolated. They’ve had to give up their social lives and are separated from their family and friends. Some have had to cancel well-deserved holidays, sports events or celebrations. Where possible, I recommend making time to connect socially with your staff in a fun and interactive way.

‘Zoom fatigue’ is a well-known side-effect of Covid-19, so while virtual drinks, online quizzes and virtual DJ sets are really fun (and we’ve done them all!), it is also important to think outside the box regarding what helps your team feel truly connected and able to be light-hearted with each other. That ‘water-cooler’ weekend talk is so important. One thing we’ve done is to encourage our team to keep up their smaller, less formal chats with their peer-set of colleagues, and make sure to share tips with each other on how we’re keeping fun going in our new normal way of life.

Takeaway

The fundamentals of marketing will always remain. While many brands may have paused or pivoted their strategies, the industry will persevere. The changes I see are the obvious shift to an uplift in digital advertising and the importance of personalisation while maintaining a sense of global community. But none of this can be achieved without the support of a superb, cutting-edge workforce, which is why Jellyfish aims to get it right when it comes to investing in employee well-being.

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About Charmaine Kelly

Charmaine is the managing director of Jellyfish South Africa. As a progressive leader with accomplished expertise in digital marketing, Charmaine has led the South African team in service excellence as the preferred digital partner for local and global brands. She has been employed by the company for more than 10 years and has gained experience across all areas of the business, including strategy, skills development, operations and project management. She started her career at Jellyfish in the field of paid search and, as the company grew globally, took up other senior roles including operations director SA and head of client operations, implementing scalable solutions for the global business.

15 Jul 2020 09:31

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