When the world is operating as ‘business as usual,’ employers and company leaders must, as well as caring about their employees’ mental health, invest in it. This will ensure the best performance from your team and help to create a company culture of success for all.
Add in a global pandemic, economic downturn, and a world that will never be the same again, and the need for leadership in helping employees live well will be the difference between your company, and therefore employees, suffering or surviving. There are large- and small-scale changes that employers can implement to engrain employee well-being into company culture during this time, and many can be started right now without breaking the bank or relationships with employees.
First and foremost, it is no longer ‘business as usual’ for any company during this time. Acknowledging that change in your business operations and employee productivity and capacity is immensely important to ensuring that your teams do not feel overwhelmed and overworked. Some employees have elderly family members to take care of, some have to shift to being a homeschool teacher and an employee, and for those with frontline spouses, they now have to shift to single parenting during this time. Expecting the same amount of productivity and work structure from your team as before is a guaranteed way to wreak havoc on your employees well being during an already mentally taxing time.
To avoid adding more to the mental burden employees are carrying, work to implement flexible work hours for teams and departments that can handle the change in structure. Flex work options should be a part of every company’s normal structure and during time of uncertainty and global change, giving employees more freedom to get the job done in whatever time and capacity that they can not only gives your company a leg up, but gives your employee the ability to manage their lives and mental health in a better way.
For some employees, working from home is a dream, but those who did not have the set up prepared or the home life structure in place to allow for eight (or more) hours of uninterrupted work to occur just as if they were in the office, not having the ability to work at night when their partner comes home to watch the kids can make a large difference in the actual work they can do and how much more of this they can take.
Scheduling semi-regular team check ins with your team to open the floor for any questions about the company and for normal water cooler talk to take place can help create a better sense of comradery and closeness that is often missing when working from home. Creating space for employee connection is important, but it is equally important to do so in a way that does not intrude on your teams work day and become a burden to them to attend. Additionally, it may be tempting to do extra work to keep an eye on your team now that you can no longer physically see them sitting at their desks, but adding more effort to your teams’ plate to prove they’re still working creates a distrustful environment. If, when working in the office, you would not expect your team members to attend a daily 8am meeting or send in a status update every single day, then, unless necessary, don’t add that to their plate.
Lastly, communication is just as important now that before. Efficiently communicating any updates that are imperative to your team’s success is needed, but a constant barrage of emails is not needed or helpful. As you find out information about the future of the company, or important updates in general, gauge the importance and determine if it needs to be communicated ASAP, or, if it can be sent as part of a newsletter style update to your team to avoid clogging up their inbox. Additionally, communicate any information regarding employee wellness or assistance programs that you have, and remind your team of the availability of the programs on a semi-regular basis. Many employees forget about these programs existing during times where they don’t need the help and need reminding of them when they need them the most.
In times of crisis, leading with trust, empathy, and grace, creates better teams and leaders. This is not the time to over manage and expect more, it is the time to come together and work through issues as a team.
For more information on how to effectively manage your employee mental health and wellness during a pandemic (or during ‘business as usual’ times) inquire here about my Integrating Employee Mental Health into Company Performance keynote workshop!