If we look at the current global pandemic, a poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that 45% of adults say the pandemic has affected their mental health and 19% say that it has had a major impact. Further to that, a survey by mental health provider Ginger found that 69% of employees said that the coronavirus is the most stressful time of their career and 88% said they had experienced moderate to extreme stress during the pandemic.
Combine the global pandemic with the fight against systemic racism and the shift to remote work and you have the conditions where stress and anxiety are likely to creep in.
So, what can managers and leaders do to ensure that they are putting priority and focus on their team’s mental health? Let’s look at four ways that have been proven to make a difference.
1 Talk about it openly, reduce the stigma, and show empathy
Discussions around mental health, anxiety, stress, uncertainty, fear, and other similar feelings has to come from the top of the organization. An unfortunate truth is that nearly 40% of people say their company has not even asked them how they’re doing since the pandemic began.
Leaders that show they care about their employees and their teams can truly boost morale and raise spirits. Address the situation head-on, provide an open-door policy where possible, and speak directly to any resources that your company has that can help your team.
Managers can implement a regular wellbeing check-in with their teams, too. This can be done during a one-on-one meeting or you could leverage an overall ‘temperature check’ to see how your team is feeling on a scale of 1-10. Be sure to follow-up individually with anyone who noted a low score and be a listening ear for them.
2 Consider giving your teams a much-needed break
Companies are finding unique and creative ways to support their employees right now.
Shopify just announced that they are giving their employees every Friday off for R&R through August, Buffer is sticking to their 4-day workweek until the end of 2020 and David Cancel over at Drift closed their office so employees could “have the day off to focus on mental health, be with their friends & family, or just rest.”
If you have the means to lighten your team’s load, do it. Even a single day off can mean the difference between thriving and surviving. If you can’t swing Fridays off for a couple of months, work in semi-regular virtual opportunities for your team to connect that are focused on connection and not work.
3 Harness your awareness and adjust expectations
In order to better support your employees and teams, you need to first be aware of the potential issues that exist inside of the current structure of your organization.
Tackling conversations with your team around expectations, productivity and workload can go a long way to show that you’re aware and interested in making adjustments.
Look for simple ways that you can help reduce your team’s overall stress as it relates to their workload. For example: have flexible deadlines, bolster teams with external support, and readjust the expectations you have for the month, quarter or even the year.
4 Put a focus on psychological safety
If your employees feel fearful about failure and don’t feel like they are working in an environment where they can fail, you may want to put some time and attention here and build up the psychological safety in your company.
Tobi Lutke, the CEO of Shopify, talks a lot about having a “trust battery” between yourself and your employees and how the trust battery might start at something lower, 50% for example, and will grow over time. The idea is that you can use the trust battery to gauge where you’re at with your individual employees and adjust as needed.
Expanding on this idea, you could use the trust battery concept to gauge the level of psychological safety employees have with your company to see if you need to improve it. A simple feedback survey would get you started but the key to success here is in the follow-up.
There are many more ways that you can support your team’s mental health and wellbeing right now but these four ways will go along way with your employees and show them that you care.