The coronavirus crisis is more than a physical health issue—it’s a mental-health issue too fueled by people’s concern for themselves, their families, their jobs, and the world at large.
Research conducted by Deloitte Global before the pandemic reveals a large percentage of workers already were highly stressed before “coronavirus” became a household word. Fear, uncertainty, and nonstop media coverage in the weeks since have put many into anxiety overdrive.
Sudden changes in lifestyle, including a widespread transition to remote work, present challenges from a mental health perspective. Some people are suffering from isolation and loneliness, while others are overwhelmed by the need to care for others. And just about everyone is struggling to define the boundaries between work, family affairs, and personal time.
As a supervisor, team leaders have always had an obligation to demonstrate compassion and make time for their people when they need it. Now is the time to make good on it.
Steps taken today to support employees’ mental and physical health will not only help individuals, but also strengthen your team in the long run.
Here are a few simple steps leaders can take today to connect more meaningfully to team members during these extraordinary times:
Keep in touch.
Some colleagues may be feeling isolated and anxious during this period of social distancing. You need to check in and ensure they understand there is help available. A quick email or instant message—or better yet, an old-fashioned phone call—will help people feel connected.
Also, promote social interaction by having regular, virtual catchups, either one-on-one or as a team.
Collaborate to find working arrangements that work.
Stress and anxiety from the unknowns we are facing can be made worse by concerns over work and deadlines. Encourage team members to talk about the challenges they face when working from home and collaborate to find solutions. Learn what will work best for them when it comes to the ways and hours they work, and remember the importance of judging on output, not on being present or “online.”
Take a step back.
Fear can narrow our field of vision, making it harder to see the bigger picture or available options, including the positive possibilities in front of us. Acknowledge the anxieties your colleagues may be feeling, reassure them their feelings are OK, and take time to explore options and positive outcomes of the current situation—like having more family time or saving money on gas.
Raise awareness of resources. Be clear on what resources your organization provides for its people and be proactive in communicating it. Whether it is tips on remote working or information about an employee-assistance program, make sure colleagues know how to find relevant resources should they need them.
Ask “Are you OK?” These three words can make all the difference to someone who may be struggling.
Look after yourself
In all of this, it's all too easy to forget yourself. Your mental health is every bit as important too, so you should not hesitate to make use of the same resources you offer your team in order to preserve your own sanity.