Caring For Your Team’s Mental Health This Winter

Adults |

As an employer, remember that whatever you’re feeling right now, your workers probably are too.

If your employees are working with the public, that can cause anxiety and fear, especially if customers are panicked. Be particularly empathetic with these heroes right now. Service jobs like cashiers, custodians, customer service, pharmacists, and nurses don’t get enough credit – and they are the ones keeping our world running right now. Let them know that you see that and understand that working with the public is daunting right now.

If your employees are working from home, focus on your human resources more than the work itself. First and foremost, your staff are people. Let your team know you see the struggles and understand things will be difficult for everyone. Remember that some employees working from home will struggle with the isolation, which can lead to – or exacerbate – depression.

If your employees are coming back to the office, they may be feeling anxious and uncertain about their safety, struggling to adapt to being around others after being isolated or some may be experiencing relief after a tough time at home. Patience, empathy and flexibility will help you make your team feel more comfortable during this transition and encourage them to speak up if needed.

Whether your staff are working from home or on the front lines, remember that any anxiety, fear, stress, or overwhelm that you may be experiencing is likely being felt by many of them as well. It’s a challenging time for everyone, so compassion and consideration will go a long way. Recognize that you’re dealing with human beings and need to meet them on that level as their leader.

Ways to nurture your team’s mental health:

  • If you normally have face-to-face meetings, try to keep those schedules as much as possible. Get creative – Zoom, Slack, and FaceTime can all be useful during this time. Regular social connection is essential for mental health; and for many of us, we’ve suddenly lost our built-in social interactions.
  • Create virtual opportunities for your team to connect. Set up video coffee breaks, lunches, or after-work drinks that are focused on connecting as a team, not the work.
  • Be flexible with your team and their schedules. We’re all trying to find a new rhythm in this bizarre reality. Particularly for your staff with kids at home, understand that their hours may fluctuate irregularly and that they may be often interrupted during video calls. Trust that they’re doing their best and make the best of the situation.
  • Make a conscious effort to check in with your staff on a regular basis. This isn’t hard to do – send a quick email or Slack message and ask them how they’re doing. Encourage honest answers. If you don’t know how to respond, something like, “I don’t know what to say, but I’m sorry that you’re feeling this way. Life is really hard right now, but we’re all in this together and we will get through it,” is a good start.
  • Make your team aware of the mental health resources available to them. Be aware of the benefits you have available and how to access them so you can share them with your team. If you haven’t tried them out yourself, now’s the time! This helps you ensure the programs are working and will provide a positive user experience for your team. Ensure your team has current info on how to access the program and the scope of care available to them.

Finally, before you can take care of others, you need to take care of yourself. Your ability to lead others successfully necessitates that you continuously meet your own needs. The true mark of a good leader isn’t a title or a CV, it’s the ability to set an example. Successful leadership is successful modelling, so make sure you walk the walk and ask for what you need.

If you’re interested in learning more about caring for your mental health during COVID-10, check out our digital offerings