Building a resilient workplace
The pandemic has challenged us to find our inner strength and navigate unpredictable times. Business owners can support their employees by prioritizing their well-being. Many forward-thinking organizations foster workplace resilience, which helps employees feel valued — and that can bring financial results.
How can you create a resilient organization? Prioritize employee health with discounts on gym memberships or exercise classes. Let employees take off early on select weekends to promote relaxation and time with family. Offer virtual or onsite yoga or meditation classes to help employees unwind. These are just a few of the many creative benefits you can offer to support employee wellness.
You can also address the financial stressors caused by the pandemic. Invite a financial representative to hold a webinar on financial health and confidence.
Working models and mental health
Experiencing mental health symptoms can diminish anyone’s quality of life. Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic escalated new anxieties and feelings of isolation for many people. As a business leader, you need to be sensitive to these realities and know how to help an employee facing mental health struggles. You need to know the unique challenges of different work models — including remote, onsite, and hybrid — along with strategies to support your employees.
To protect public health, many companies advised employees to work from home (WFH). The WFH arrangement brings some benefits to employees, like short (or no) commutes and greater flexibility in balancing their professional and personal lives. According to McKinsey research, 80 percent of people report that they enjoy working from home. And, 41 percent say that they are more productive than they had been before.1 For others, working from home can amplify stress. They may feel isolated and have trouble establishing new routines, especially if other family members are home during work hours. Some can even find it difficult to detach from work and can start to feel burned out.
Over time, these WFH stressors can take their toll on mental health. According to the American Psychiatric Association Center for Workplace Mental Health, you can support your remote employees by:
- Helping employees voice concerns: Remind your team about any Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) or emotional health benefits available through insurance. Encourage managers to hold 1:1 check-ins and let employees express their worries and brainstorm solutions.
- Providing opportunities for connection: Use video conferencing or collaboration tools to help employees connect. Host virtual get-togethers such as team lunches or happy hours to encourage relationship building.
- Highlighting online training: Suggest that employees set goals and build skills through virtual training to stay focused and productive.2
There are some industries — including healthcare, manufacturing, retail, and service professions — where remote work isn’t an option. Employees who are working onsite often grapple with worries about becoming infected with the virus.
Business owners can help address the stress experienced by onsite workers, making them more resistant to negative mental health consequences. The National Law Review recommends that employers communicate openly to help reassure onsite workers. Talk about the PPE you provide and how to use it. Spotlight social distancing measures, cleaning protocols, and health screenings. Through these efforts, you will help onsite employees know that you have made their health and safety a priority.3
For some employers, hybrid work arrangements — with some employees at work and others at home — make social distancing feasible. According to a survey from Mercer, 73 percent of companies said that they were considering a hybrid working model over the long term.4
Hybrid work arrangements reduce — but don’t eliminate — employees’ risk of COVID exposure. Your hybrid employees may still feel heightened stress about coming into work at all. At times, those anxieties can undo the autonomy and flexibility that the days at home offer.
You can support your hybrid employees with strong management. According to the Harvard Business Review, you should ensure that you and other leaders understand the unique challenges of managing hybrid teams. Be sure to learn the warning signs of emotional stress, and budget more time for personal check-ins with employees. Also, create opportunities for employees to rebuild connections with each other, whether virtually or in a safe, socially-distanced way.5
With support and self-care, people can navigate through dark passages and emerge stronger on the other side. By staying informed about mental health risks and mitigation strategies, you can provide a workplace that helps employees rebound and build resilience. Not only will this benefit your people, but it will make your business more resilient as well.
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2022-142760 Exp. 08/2024