To say that 2020 has been a difficult year is a laughable understatement. However, it has had some benefits, we’ve learned that although it’s challenging we can all learn how to use video chat, start sourdough, whip coffee, and even though there have been a few questionable moments, keep sane during huge uncertainty. The opening of business is positive news however, public fear and anxiety are still on the rise. Your employees may be experiencing a high degree of uncertainty, worry and stress about the health and safety of their loved ones, whether we are really safe to return to work and what both the “second wave” and “new normal” really mean.
While employers are safeguarding their business operations and protecting the physical health of their employees, it’s important to recognize that mental health claims are the number one reason that employees leave work on disability and that we continue to consider employee’s psychological health and safety as well.
Here are five things that you can do to support the health and safety of your employees.
- Have a plan. Let employees know that you are thinking and looking ahead, that you have learned from the recent past, and that you will stay well-informed. Be able to answer questions like: What is the most efficient and safe way to return to daily operations while maintaining physical distancing? What if I get sick? What if I don’t have childcare? What if my family member contracts the virus? You may want to compile frequently asked questions and direct employees to them often.
- Empathize. Share that you know it’s stressful. Recognize that it’s okay to be anxious. Remind your employees of resources that are available for those who are experiencing stress.
- Communicate. Worry and fear grow in the absence of up-to-date information. Let your employees know that they can continue to expect regular updates from you. While things are moving forward, you recognize that they are not returning to how they were before. Communicate even if the situation remains unchanged.
- Inspire and Reassure—as best you can. Refer to other times the team has thrived during change, be able to talk about all of the things you are doing to keep employees safe at work, and communicate your willingness to be flexible and supportive.
- Understand. Recognize that employees have been isolated to a significantly greater degree than normal and they have been operating without the “regular” structure of pre-COVID daily life. They may struggle being with more people (even at an appropriate physical distance), to be on time, or even to focus. These struggles will be temporary and aided by understanding rather than criticism. When stress has become unmanageable for individual employees. Encourage employees to practice self-care activities and reassure them that it’s ok to take steps to manage stress. Some good stress management techniques that can be practiced on-the-job are: breathing exercises, listening to music, and taking regular breaks.
Message Akiko here with questions or for support.
*photo by Frankie Cordoba on Unsplash