The Whole-Employee Approach

How can you best support the emotional well-being of your workforce?

The recognition that everything has changed nearly overnight and that ‘normal’ civic life likely will not be restored any time soon has been overwhelming to many people. Recognizing that depression peaks during these times and identifying those at risk is critical. Stress may be related to changes in routine, social isolation, or just feeling a loss of control. In a previous blog, we discussed the various stages of stress – it is often the perception of stress that matters most.

During times of stress, it is important to establish new routines, new social activities that conform to the physical separation guidelines, and a new sense of control. Employees’ emotional worries may be regarding their own health and safety or regarding any financial impact and/or family needs that may arise, such as childcare or isolated, elderly parents. Considering the whole employee and factors outside of the workplace are important, especially now. For more information and tools to keep employees engaged and supported during this transitional time download our Return to Business Playbook.

Have you considered financial and childcare stressors?

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A number of households rely on dual incomes. During this time, some portion of your workforce may experience a decrease in household income. Also, as daycares and schools have been closed, there may be issues with child supervision.

Some employers may want to provide information regarding public assistance in their areas – either to give or receive. Some have also taken it upon themselves to establish benevolent funds and opportunities. However, liberal work-from-home policies with flexible schedules or facilitating childcare opportunities may be all that is needed to keep a family afloat. Perhaps reassess your sick leave policy along with your work-from-home policies – ensuring that these important policies account for COVID-19 will play a key role in keeping the entire workforce safe and healthy.

What are some ways you can mitigate employees’ stress?

Consider high-frequency communication and sharing factual information and resources about the virus. Fear of the unknown can be overwhelming, so do not be afraid to over-communicate. Consider the mode of communication – will employees have access to email or intranets? The best communication is bidirectional. Providing updates in a written communication allows employees the time to process and respond to changes, as well as revisit the information when stressors arise.

Change is difficult; some employees might respond differently than others, and that’s okay. Continue open discussion and communication, check in with employees, ask their preferences, and respect their boundaries. Emphasizing an open and inclusive environment will benefit your workforce during this time. Understand what the employees are looking for and provide them with accurate, thoughtful information. Actively seeking input from employees can be done through simple surveys and actions can be based on those results.