How to manage employee wellbeing in a pandemic and boost performance

manage employee wellbeing

Source: Unsplash/Priscilla Du Preez.

When you ask small business owners why they chose to leave their nine to five, most say the same thing. To pursue my passion, to have independence, to build something of my own. 

Fewer say they started a business to manage employees — but in 2021, taking care of your team is synonymous with taking care of your business. 

COVID-19 has brought extended lockdowns, border closures and economic uncertainty. The way we work was turned on its head overnight, and SME owners aren’t the only ones struggling.  

If you want to build a better business, it starts with supporting your people.  

That’s why Xero has launched the Xero App Store, which features a range of apps dedicated to helping SMEs support their staff to work smarter, not harder in lockdown.

Here are four key ways SMEs can develop meaningful wellbeing practices with the strategic use of apps.

1. Get the best from your team

Small business owners are already spread thin — they’re the marketer, the accountant and the recruiter. Adding ‘people leader’ to the resume can be daunting.

Everperform is one of a range of Xero App Store solutions helping business owners manage their people in a pandemic.

Founded 15 years ago, Everperform started as a way to measure and track factors affecting an athlete’s performance. Today, it’s an intelligent performance platform for professional services, measuring and analysing employee productivity and wellbeing.

“We spent a lot of years creating a universal measurement framework for the most complex creatures on the planet: humans,” says Daniel Spitty, CEO at Everperform.

In challenging times, the best employers maintain high-performing teams by constantly checking in and communicating with their people. But remote work adds another layer of difficulty.

“Managers currently have no real way to know what their people are doing, or how they’re performing – it’s not as easy as walking past their desk,” says Spitty.

He explains there are three dimensions to performance: productivity, wellbeing and relationships. If wellbeing and relationships are nurtured – particularly when working remotely – productivity will thrive. 

“It’s about connections between teammates, managers, clients, and people that you work with.

If you look after your people,  your people will look after your clients and they will look after your business.”

2. Supporting mental wellbeing 

So how can leaders properly look after their people?

Maintaining employee mental health takes more than “sending out a gym membership or putting out a bowl of fruit”, according to Tom Boyd, Wellbeing and Growth Leader at Everperform.

“Looking after your staff isn’t a one-off event. It’s living and breathing it every single day.”

The clients that manage their people’s mental wellbeing see an increase in retention,  productivity, and applications from top talent.

Using Everperform, one firm was able to improve its work life balance by close to 10%, even during lockdown and its busiest time of year.

Another was able to improve productivity by 86% across their engineering team.

Spitty observes “the pendulum has swung quite dramatically” and job seekers are now prioritising employers that support their people’s mental wellbeing and offer work/life balance. 

“We’re seeing a shift in mindset. People want to know the organisation and their leadership place priority on the wellness of their people.”

He adds The “old badge of honour” – working overtime with huge amounts of pressure – has now been replaced by a new badge.

“I’m looking out for myself, feeling good, and making a great impact. I feel content and I’m growing.”

3. Delivering work that inspires your team 

You could provide limitless perks and untapped employee support, but if people can’t find meaning in their work, they won’t stay motivated.

Creating a shared sense of connection, meaning and purpose within your team is vital to drive engagement and job satisfaction.

To motivate employees, SME owners should “go back to the pillar of what your business is about. If there’s a shared vision and purpose, you’re all on the same bus.”

Boyd adds that creating a personal connection between your business and your employees is critical.

Part of it is feeling as though you are more than a money producing machine. It’s about creating connections between management, employees, and the company, and making it inclusive.

We’re here to do something that’s worthwhile doing, and we’re here to do it together.

4. Find a better way to do business

Bryan Williams, ANZ Head of Ecosystem and Marketplace at Xero, says the Xero App Store was created to connect SMEs into an ecosystem of business solutions that could help with everything from payroll and reporting, to managing the wellbeing of their teams.

“It’s something we’ve got a lot of focus on – cultivating a people-first approach,” explains Williams.

“If you don’t look after your people, your business won’t grow. It has to start there.”

You can check out Everperform and other wellbeing apps at the new Xero App Store here.

NOW READ: Smarter, faster, better: Five of the best apps for small business


Xero is a cloud-based accounting software platform for small businesses with over 3 million subscribers globally. Through Xero, small business owners and their advisors have access to real-time financial data any time, anywhere and on any device. Xero offers an ecosystem of over 1,000 third-party apps and 300 plus connections to banks and other financial partners.

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