As a manager or owner of a business, it’s important to consider your employees’ mental health. “How are you doing?” is a very simple question that shows concern when we know employees are under stress or dealing with unusual challenges. Have you asked your employees this question lately?
The changes and uncertainty resulting from the pandemic have led to stress and anxiety. Workers are tired of being at home or uneasy about transitioning back to onsite work. Some may have lost a loved one or are personally suffering from the lingering health effects of COVID-19. Others are unsure about the vaccination process, their financial situation, or home schooling. So, what can you do to support your employees?
Open the lines of communication. Hold virtual “Let’s Talk” meetings. This gives employees a chance to express how they’re feeling and gives you an opportunity to offer support. Follow up with any individual who may need a mental health referral.
Be honest and vulnerable. Almost everyone has experienced some level of stress or discomfort lately. Being honest about your own stress opens the door for employees to feel comfortable talking with you about mental health challenges of their own.
Communicate as much as possible. Clarify any modified work hours or expected changes in responsibilities. Remove stress by informing the team of plans to transition when the COVID-19 pandemic is less of a health threat.
Listen. Go a step beyond a simple “How are you?” and ask specific questions about what individuals might be facing and what support would be helpful. Ask about their families as well. Really listen and encourage expression of concerns.
Offer reassurance and flexibility. Don’t make assumptions about what your direct reports need. Take a customized approach to addressing stressors for each person. Proactively offer reassurance and flexibility.
Model healthy behaviors. Share that you’re taking a walk in the middle of the day, attending a therapy appointment, engaging in a self-care activity, prioritizing specific time with your spouse or children, or making time to do things you enjoy.
Invest in training. If you don’t have the budget to invest in professional mental health awareness training, there are many resources online that allow free downloads of literature on this topic. Also, be sure to advise your employees on how to access any insurance provided mental health services or employee assistance programs.
Workplace Mental Health Resources:
This blog was written by Tammy Lamberg, a West Bend Loss Control Representative