What will be your strategy to comfort your employees' stress and anxiety on and after such a tough time period?
The global pandemic has impacted not only the physical health of people but their mental health as well. During this unprecedented time, your employees also had to go through a lot of grief. It creates a consequent negative impact on their emotional and behavioral well-being.
A third of Americans are showing signs of clinical anxiety or depression, the most definitive and alarming sign yet of the psychological toll exacted by the coronavirus pandemic.washingtonpost.com
As a business leader or owner, you might provide enough facilities to your team members when you shifted them remotely for the coronavirus outbreak. It's again time to keep your personal emotions aside and manage your team to continue remotely or come back to their office desks.
Below, we reviewed 8 effective ways you can follow to take care of your employees' mental health. Let's start with this simple question-
This is Why You Should Care About Your Employees' Mental Health
“American Companies Are Losing $1,685 Per Employee due to loss of productivity and absenteeism.”
Employees are the most valuable asset for any organization. Poor mental health and stress can hamper your business in many ways.
For over one year we all are fighting against an unseen tiny creature. Everyone is stressed, depressed, even struggling to sleep through the night. Also, many of us have lost our beloved ones. It's not easy to forget everything like a nightmare and go back to normal life.
According to a survey of mental health provider Ginger – 69% of employees claimed that the coronavirus is the most stressful time of their career, and 88% said they had experienced moderate to extreme stress over the past four to six weeks.
If your employees have personal problems, it'll negatively affect their job performance, engagement, and communication with coworkers as well as business results. In this circumstance, it becomes more important to focus on your employees' mental health in the workplace.
How Managers Can Support Employees' Mental Health
Mental health experts have already warned about the long-term mental health impact the coronavirus pandemic is going to leave on society.
Luckily, there are several ways to support your team's mental well-being.
- Strong Leadership & Real-time communication
- Modified Workplace Layouts
- Mindful Office Protocols and Practices
- Create a Flexible Work Schedule
- Routine Check-in Conversations
- Provide Loyal Support
- Arrange Brainstorming Session
- Motivate Employees to Stay Healthy
Here we discussed 8 ways that managers can play their part to cheer up their teams in this time of crisis. Let's get started.
1. Strong Leadership & Real-time Communication
There is a wide range of stressors that we are all challenged by to varying degrees. These can largely affect the mental health of your team members too. Probably the biggest one is job uncertainty.
Most of us wake up every morning with the dilemma of what is happening at my employer; what is their next plan; what are the key things I need to be aware of; It's quite obvious, as human beings, we derive comfort from certainty. Employers can help with that by giving job assurance and regular updates of the company along with the future plan.
- Communicate in a simple straightforward way
- Avoid highly technical and legalistic
- Acknowledge the uncertainty created by this unprecedented situation
- Share your business plan to overcome this crisis
- Encourage your employees to share reliable sources of information
So, communicate with your team members regularly even if the situation hasn’t changed- they’ll feel confident hearing from you.
2. Modified Workplace Layouts
Physical distancing helps limit the spread of COVID-19. It's essential to maintain the same adequate in the office environment too. Top management should rearrange the seating plan keeping a distance of at least six feet from each other.
You can also renovate the office to keep your employees energized. Such as paint the place, add new office accessories, paintings with motivational quotes, etc. If possible you can rent a temporary place to extend your workplace where you can accommodate all the employees maintaining all the safety rules.
Remember, everyone is scared to get affected by the coronavirus. Only a secured workplace can calm their nerves down and make them productive. Continue some lockdown practices in your physical workplace also to stay safe. For example, conduct daily meetings or sessions through online tools like slack, zoom, etc even staying under a roof. But also make sure that physical distance does not harm your team collaboration.
3. Mindful Office Protocols and Practices
A concrete company policy provides stability and guidance to the employees. But due to the wake of the coronavirus pandemic companies also had to adjust their business strategies in terms of survival. HR leaders revised once their rules book to shift their office remotely.
Now while the teams are returning to the physical office management should reconsider the regular office protocols to cope up with the post-pandemic situation. As they have to protect the well-being of their team members and the company as a whole.
Make the most of your workforce adopting new COVID-19 office protocols:
- Paid sick leaves for the employees who've been battling the consequences caused by the coronavirus
- Remote work and telecommuting options for those with symptoms
- Employee and visitor health pre-screening processes
- Availability of all safety equipment e.g. masks, hand sanitizer, ppt, etc.
- Compulsory of using personal hygiene materials
- Increase the frequency of sterilizing workplace surfaces- stainless steel, glass, wood, fabric, leather, etc.
- Limit the interaction in common places like the kitchen or meeting room.
Important to notice here, sudden changes and new desking policies may feel like inconveniences to employees. Explain the purpose of these changes and let them know you're conscious about their health and wellness.
4. Create a Flexible Work Schedule
You can utilize a flexible work schedule policy to keep your employees stress-free. Let them set their arrival and departure time within the agreed limit (such as 40 hours in a week). However, ensure their presence in ‘”core hours”, e.g. 10 am-3 pm every day- because team collaboration is often essential to carry out the final output.
If possible divide the office into multiple shifts. One group will come 4 days a week, other will attend on alternate days. They can work remotely rest of the working days. Or allowing an extra off day can also work as a conciliation to boost up your fellow members.
5. Routine Check-in Conversations
One of the most practical ways that leaders can support employees impacted by Covid-19 is to conduct one-on-one routine semi-structured check-in conversations. In simple words, regularly asking them how they are or what they need. It reduces stress and people get the chance to open up themselves. Leaders also get a brief idea as suggestions and solutions come from the conversion process.
You can make a small set of questions to share during check-ins. Simple questions like-
- How is it all going?
- What types of challenges are you facing?
- Is there anything I or a colleague can do to help you?
Regular day-to-day conversation helps employees to brief up leaders about how things are going on and what they might need. On the other hand, it enables leaders to scan for signs of stress or declining mental health. So, they can outline some individual support plan for his/her team. Also, this open conversation strengthens the relationship between the manager and other team members.
6. Provide Loyal Support
Balancing between work-life and personal life becomes harder than ever. Continuous news updates, social posts from suffering patients or their family members, managing work alongside caring responsibilities- all create an overwhelming sense of uncertainty.
As a team leader or manager, it's your duty to keep your employees healthy, happy, and motivated. Stimulate their excitements and engage them in works according to their interest that aligns with the company goal as well.
An employee's motivation is a direct result of the sum of interactions with his or her manager.Bob Nelson
Moreover, offices can pursue personal loans or financial support to those employees who are largely affected by this crisis. Run any charity program or use office funds to support these people getting out of this tough time.
7. Arrange Brainstorming Session
Everyone is morale down this time. Until you destruct them from their scarcity you can't make them fully productive. Arrange a growth hack session or any team learning session on the related topics once or twice a week. Also, make it mandatory for your fellow team members to attend these sessions and share ideas. Never shunt away any idea or suggestion no matter how silly they may sound.
It would keep them away from the current distressful situation at least for some time. Consequently, these efforts make them productive and bring them back into normal life.
8. Motivate Employees to Stay Healthy
Physical health is also connected to peoples' mental health. Since we are still in a global pandemic need to be health-conscious. And maintain all the persuasions we already used to. This is the time to reinforce healthy habits in the workplace too. Implement new practices within your team to keep them healthy, both mentally and physically.
- Wash your hands frequently and sanitize them
- Don't touch your face
- Use a mask even you're working alone
- Sanitize yourself and your belongings after entering into office
- Avoid physical touch, like handshakes
- Sterilize the surface of any material while leaving it
- Practice respiratory etiquette when you cough or sneeze
- Drink enough water every day
- Eat fresh and unprocessed foods
Also, describe the necessity of these safety adequates and the consequences not to follow them. In fact, team members will more likely to adopt these habits if they see their leaders practicing indeed.
Taking Good Care of Employees' Mental Health to Boost Up Their Morale
Within a short (not so short actually) time period, employers are experiencing two completely different situations. At first, organizations face challenges to shift the whole office remotely. And now it's another challenge to return those employees back to their offices.
However, it's a matter of relief that the world is slowly coming back to its real face. Our fast-paced life picks up again. Undoubtedly, it won't be easy for many individuals as the coronavirus pandemic will have a lasting impact on their mental health.
In that case, leaders have to take the main responsibility to keep their members cheerful and bring the spontaneity in the work back again.
Do you have any other suggestions for managers to keep their team members mentally healthy at work? Use the comment section below to share your views with us!