The Covid-19 pandemic has brought on unprecedented levels of societal, global health, and economic disruptions. Combine that with so many uncertainties of the future and fear for their own health (as well as their loved ones), it can take its toll on your employees’ mental health.
As an employer, it is important to extend support to your employees so they maintain healthy well-being throughout this crisis. Employee wellbeing initiatives should be given priority now more than ever.
There are plenty of risks involved when working remotely – whether your employees are working from home or in flexible serviced spaces. They have limited ability to connect with others due to social distancing measures. Since humans are social creatures, this can have adverse effects on their physical and mental well-being.
Take note of these strategies on employee mental health support so you can address the psychological needs of employees.
1. Allow more work flexibility
Prior to the pandemic, only about 5% of employees work from home. To say that the current setup is a major transition for many employees is an understatement. Living situations vary for every employee so this should be taken into account when working from home. Employer flexibility is crucial so you can match your expectations with the employee’s needs.
You want to be open with employees about their preferred working schedule so you won’t invade their privacy or home life. Just as you honour employee wellbeing in the workplace by giving them enough time for their family, this should not change just because they spend most of their time at home.
2. Encourage virtual social time
Staying connected is essential to the mental wellbeing of your employees. Maintain employee wellbeing and engagement by scheduling regular virtual social time with co-employees and other members of the team. While it is hard to replicate the daily interactions that your employees have with their co-workers, video conference calls and other virtual social interactions are encouraged to mimic that experience.
Managers should continue to recognise milestones or mark birthdays. In fact, you can schedule social time geared towards group games and other fun activities. These social meetings should be used primarily for entertainment during downtime and not for any work-related discussions.
3. Practice compassionate leadership
In this unique time, leaders have a greater role to play. You need to exhibit compassion towards your employees. Understand that not every individual’s circumstances are the same. Some are more vulnerable than others. Learning how to exhibit compassion and empathy is more important during this time.
Spend time each day to check in on how your employees are doing. It also helps to practice mindful listening. Let your employees open up and communicate their concerns to let them know they are heard. Finally, respond in a prompt manner. Any concerns they raised to you should be timely addressed to let them know their concerns do not fall on deaf ears.
4. Build Employee Assistance Programme
Employers need to take concrete actions toward showing employees that they are supported during difficult times. A programme as such lets you extend help in the form of financial and health support. For instance, you can provide financial assistance to your employees based on their individual circumstances. This could either be in the form of releasing their bonuses and incentives ahead of schedule, or providing additional financial relief for emergency use.
You can also provide access to mental health services and professionals, if needed. This is one of the ways in which you can put into practice the concept of compassionate leadership.
5. Provide mental health resources for employees
You need to foster positive coping among your employees if you want to ensure their wellbeing. You may conduct an employee wellbeing survey in order to measure the stress and fear levels among your employees. If left untreated, a spike in anxiety and depression could lead to damaging consequences. It is also recommended that you come up with a workplace mental health questionnaire so you can assess your employees’ mental health needs and deliver resources to support them accordingly. Look into references such as the Calm app and this resource page with information to counter coronavirus anxiety from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America for points you can incorporate into your initiatives toward employee mental health support.
Fostering the health and mental wellbeing of your employees is easier said than done as there are many variables involved. Take into account the mental health and psychological needs of employees. Supporting the backbone of your company will benefit employees and your company in the long run.