Lately, I have been doing a lot of research on stress, anxiety, and burnout and how they all affect work performance and productivity. The spread of coronavirus has changed people's lives significantly. Gatherings are now canceled, travel has been restricted, and most people are having to get used to working from home. Even though social distancing is a crucial part of the plan to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, it does have psychological effects such as fear, stress, and anxiety. Did you know that, according to the World Health Organization, depression and anxiety alone cost the global economy approximately one trillion dollars annually due to lost productivity? So, how can leaders support mental wellness for their employees to avoid loss of productivity?
According to the Wellness Council of America, reducing workplace stress promotes a strong company culture, reduces sick days, and boosts talent acquisition and retention.
Here are some ways managers can support mental health wellness while working from home:
1.Make Resources Available
Even though one in five American adults experience mental illness in a given year, there is still a stigma around mental health issues. Sometimes, employees may not feel comfortable approaching their HR department or supervisor about these types of issues. Having an easily accessible file in the server with resources can be beneficial. Materials such as brochures, flyers, videos, or other resources about symptoms of poor mental health and opportunities for treatment are a great start.
If you want to go above and beyond, proving a helpline or a counseling number is even better. Services such as Talkspace, which is a platform that provides secure and anonymous online therapy where users can access confidential help from professionals, are a great investment. What’s more, since privacy is a key component of these services, employees don’t need to worry that their personal information is being shared with their employer.
2. Encourage Breaks
When employees are working remotely, they may sometimes feel pressured to overwork themselves in order to prove to their managers that they are being productive, or for fear of falling behind. Without taking adequate breaks from work, employee productivity, mental well-being, and overall performance begin to suffer. This is why it is important for managers to encourage employees to take breaks throughout the workday. Breaks are essential in helping employees de-stress and re-charge for the rest of the workday. Taking some time away from the desk to go for a quick walk or enjoy a healthy lunch helps release some of this stress and improves mental well-being.
3. Speak Candidly and Strengthen Relationships
Like I mentioned before, there is still a stigma surrounding mental health. In order to beat the stigma, it is important to talk about it like it’s not a taboo. One way to help employees open up is for managers to make sure all communication lines are open. A good start is establishing regular one-on-one check-ins. During these check-ins, managers can ask employees how they are feeling and employees can discuss their concerns with their managers without having to share them with other colleagues. Having one-on-one meetings can help leaders monitor any developing issues and they can offer confidential support and resources to alleviate stress.
Companies should always be proactive when it comes to employee mental wellness, but during these times, it’s when employees need it the most. Make sure to share resources with them, encourage them to take breaks, and to check in regularly and monitor any developing issues.