As the pandemic lingers and stress builds, mental health continues to be an area of concern. Many employees are feeling burned out or exhausted due to work-related stress during Covid-19, especially if they are also caring for children and/or aging relatives at home. Remote workers may find that the lines between work and home are becoming increasingly blurred, while in-office employees may be worried about their and their family’s health.
While company leaders can’t fix all these issues, they still play an important role in promoting employee wellness. To support your employees’ mental health during these unprecedented times, try these 12 strategies from the members of Business Journals Leadership Trust.
1. Establish ‘mental health’ days.
Leaders should establish a protocol for each employee to take a “mental health” day. In the current environment, it’s hard to differentiate between work life and home life, so it’s harder to find ways to recharge, and a regular vacation isn’t really possible. Employers can mandate a planned mental health day — everyone should be required to take one so no one feels pressured to ask for it. – Jenn Kenning, Align Impact
2. Reassure employees about their job security.
It is extremely important to reassure employees during these times that their job security is the highest priority. All staff needs to be aware of upcoming projects, cost-saving measures and other efforts to ensure the sustainability of the company. While these finer points may not have previously been disclosed to everyone, during these times, keeping everyone informed can be reassuring and ease stress and uncertainty. – Regina Agro, Chelsea Design
3. Provide transparent updates.
As an employer, I enforce best practices for those who are working in the office — wearing face masks, regular cleaning and disinfecting, etc. — to hopefully prevent the virus from spreading from office to home. I am also transparent with my team regarding the financial state of our business. Whether the updates are positive or negative, knowledge is reassuring and removes the need for speculation. – Mark Zinman, Zinman & Company
4. Continue one-on-one meetings with employees.
With the pandemic, we’ve not stopped our regular one-on-ones with employees. This time together is a chance to update one another from a tactical perspective, and if you’ve created a safe environment, your employees will be open to sharing any thoughts or concerns they are having so that together you can work toward possible solutions. – Robin Throckmorton, strategic HR inc.
5. Reinforce the mission.
When times get tough, things get stressful and you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, we want to remind everyone on our team what we are fighting for. It gives us all energy and a little bit of mental relief to know that we aren’t here to just push papers, answer emails and hit deadlines — we are really helping people through our products and services. – Greg Rollett, Ambitious Media Group
6. Ask team members how they’re doing personally.
Encourage employees to seek help if they are experiencing feelings of depression, hopelessness or loneliness. We have connected staff to counseling resources to support them. We also set aside time in our biweekly meetings to inquire about how people are doing personally. Employees are also encouraged to use PTO if they need it. – Muriel Smith, De La Salle, Inc.
7. Encourage daily wellness activities.
Our leadership team provides a best-practices channel for health and wellness to encourage all of our team members to take time out of their day to participate in easy activities to improve their mental health. We’ve made it fun by turning the healthy activities into an interactive bingo game. We publish new cards each week to keep all of our employees happily engaged with healthy tips and activities. – Scott Scully, Abstrakt Marketing Group
8. Give the team a plan for self-development.
Instead of writing the year off as “just getting through this,” I believe every person in the organization can grow through this time. Stress only builds when we don’t bring clarity to the team. Create your goals and revisit your vision and your “why” so your team will have more confidence to be where they are now and to get where you’re going. – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS
9. Offer extra family-centric support.
This is an important time to take care of the emotional, physical and relationship health of our associates. We have used a Chaplaincy program for years and have increased our efforts this year. Our care team is offering extra support to our associates and their families, helping them learn how to home school and encouraging them to take PTO (we have increased the number of available days). – Timothy Flanagan Jr., MassMutual Carolinas
10. Host virtual team-building activities.
We’ve begun doing virtual activities to keep the fun in relationships among our team and to relieve stress. We have team trivia, which we conduct via email. Employees are asked to guess such things as which of their colleagues loved Kim Possible as a kid or who has a dream of traveling to Australia. It always brings a smile when it arrives in the email inbox. – Scott Baradell, Idea Grove
11. Empathize with your team.
I think the key is first recognizing that this is happening and empathizing with the fact that people are silently suffering. Then, proactively look for ways to support and “love on” your team members. We provide counseling and coaching opportunities to anyone who needs them and set up one-on-one “check-in” calls with each person to see how we can be of service to them in this difficult time. – Jonathan Keyser, Keyser
12. Be vulnerable.
We don’t typically rely on leaders to be vulnerable. However, demonstrating empathy and providing multiple opportunities and pathways for all employees to be engaged from their office or living room leads to inclusion and a simple outlet. When reaching out to employees for business purposes, take a few minutes to catch up on life too. – Seth Bacon, Trinity Air Medical