You spend a lot of time at work, and while your co-workers don’t necessarily need to be your best friends, you should at least be able to rely on them when something goes wrong, when there’s a conflict between team members, or when someone has a personal issue that is affecting the productivity of the office.
With that in mind, here are some ideas for creating an office support system.
Provide a mentor-buddy for new employees.
New employees are some of the workers most in need of support and guidance -- and even with a strong training program and training materials in place, they may need more help getting settled and learning the ropes. You’ll foster a strong culture of employee support by assigning a more senior employee to mentor that person for the first few months. Just choose your mentor candidates wisely; in one of my corporate jobs, the woman assigned to "train" me happened to be a person who’d applied for a lateral move into my position -- meaning she was pretty resentful about having to help me along, and did a pretty poor job indeed.
Establish a regular check-in schedule with all employees.
As a boss, your support system should also come from the top. Having regular one-on-ones with each of your staff members can be a great way to find out about issues they may be having, processes that are not working or changes they’d like to see. Naturally, this will also have to be coupled with a strong culture of openness and transparency so employees feel comfortable sharing information with you.
Create an IT Help Desk person -- or contract out for one.
In the Internet Age, computer issues can be a constant source of stress and lost productivity. If your business is not big enough to have its own IT department, locate a local contractor who can work with you on a regular basis -- for a reasonable rate, of course.
Explore an employee assistance program option.
Some of your employees’ personal problems are going to be too big for you to handle on your own -- not to mention that your employees may not want to share the gory details with you. That’s where employee assistance programs can really come in handy. They can help your workers feel supported and offer counseling or emergency services during times of personal crisis, such as divorce, domestic violence, deaths, or other life-changing problems. Private companies offer these services to your employees, while you pay a fee similar to an insurance policy.
Develop clear protocols in your employee handbook.
If you’re in an industry in which certain problems pop up regularly -- such as burnout or depression among social services workers or repetitive motion injuries among factory workers, for example, give your employees a clear idea of how to handle the issues -- ways to access insurance, protocols for reporting a workplace injury, or other steps they should take. Also include language that demonstrates your concern for their well-being.
Schedule well-being classes.
Speaking of well-being, you can further demonstrate your commitment to your employee’s support and well-being by offering classes that focus on mindfulness or health, such as lunchtime yoga or meditation, for example.
Ensuring your employees are well-supported should be an effort undertaken by your entire team, but setting up the systems is something that should come from you.