The Covid-19 pandemic turned many people’s focus to the importance of self-care and mental health. The devotion to working long hours and sacrificing personal life in the name of furthering a career is becoming a thing of the past, as more employees and employers understand that unplugging and unwinding isn’t just a human need, but also a path to better productivity.
Today, many employers are looking for proactive ways to support the mental health of their employees, especially during long-term crises such as the pandemic. Below, 12 members of Business Journals Leadership Trust share effective ways for leaders to support their employees’ mental well-being.
1. Coach and empower managers.
While companies can come up with meditation sessions, fun outings, care packages and many other cool things, what’s most important is to coach and empower day-to-day managers to know what will mean the most to each individual on their team. Of course, a companywide mental health effort can be part of this, but each staff member’s individual care counts the most. – Kathleen Lucente, Red Fan Communications
2. Address mental health in meetings.
The best way to support employees’ mental health during a long-term crisis is to address it. Address it in meetings and one-on-ones and with those who are struggling the most. Some employees already struggle with long-term mental health issues, and others have sick family members or have lost loved ones. We believe that the more connected we feel at work — remote or not — the more we lessen Covid-related stress, anxiety and fear. – Matt Bean, Lowden Street Capital
3. Provide guidance resources for those who want them.
Providing guidance resources to all employees who may need or want to reach out regarding their mental health and any other challenges they may be facing can be helpful. Also, having an open-door policy and devoting the time to be there for your employees makes a difference in their stress levels. Another benefit that can add support is a flexible work schedule. – Jerry Ramos, Ramos Consulting, LLC
4. Provide time and space for self-care.
Talk to your team members. Ask them how they are doing. Provide them with the time and space to take care of themselves. Do not expect or promote an always-on work environment. – Laura Doehle, Elevation Business Consulting
5. Show increased flexibility.
During these difficult times, we have adapted to being more flexible with remote working, being aware of our employees’ need for personal time off and being more mindful of the uniqueness of our situation. We have also brought in a life coach to assist the staff with their personal and business struggles. – Daniel Wilson, Lacey Thaler Reilly Wilson Architecture & Preservation
6. Show kindness and calm.
Communicate, check in and, most importantly, be kind. People are looking for consistency and calm in a difficult world. If you’re being kind, your people will understand that they are important and cared for and that their difficult days will be respected. – Zane Stevens, Protea Financial
7. Really listen to what they’re saying.
It’s extremely important to have empathy for our employees during trying times like these. Employees want to feel heard and want to know that someone is actively listening to them. Adding additional mental health-related benefits is also something that will go a long way with employees. – Daniel Serfaty, Aptima, Inc.
8. Be open about your own struggles.
If you miss a meeting because there was traffic while you were taking your kid to school or dropping the dog off at the vet, be honest about it so people can see that you’re wrestling with a lot, too. If someone is having a hard time or has a sudden change in behavior or mood, find a quiet moment to ask what’s going on and then listen deeply and intently to what they say. – Mary-Cathryn Kolb, brrrº
9. Give the team a chance to get away from the workplace.
Give your staff a break from reality. Do fun things — set up outings, allow them to work from home or outside, or go on a camping trip. Encourage your team to be involved in the community — my favorite way is to set up a give-back day and get the team outside, working hard to make someone else’s life easier or better. Volunteering will feel so good, and giving back is good for business. – David Wescott, Transblue
10. Provide stability.
The most important thing a leader can provide is stability in the workplace — even as we ourselves contend with a macro environment of instability. You can be that rock and center on a daily basis that an employee might not be able to find in other areas of their life. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising
11. Start an annual wellness week.
We started an annual wellness week, bringing in mental health experts, fitness coaches, yogis, financial planners, comics and nutritionists to help teach our teams how to be healthy, wealthy and wise. We also provide various mindfulness resources and opportunities to connect with each other and with professionals as needed throughout the year. – Todd Marks, Mindgrub
12. Be sensitive to individual circumstances.
Be supportive of and responsive to the needs that are born from each person’s unique circumstances. It can’t be business as usual, and bending policies and going the extra mile shows your team they’re heard and valued. – Rachael Roberts, 3R Interiors
13. Build a culture of help and support.
As a leader, you can support your employees by offering them all the help you can provide, from more flexible hours to reducing their workload or giving them extra time off. However, this is something that needs to be accounted for in advance. You need to build a culture of mutual help and support in the team so that when it’s necessary, there will always be someone ready to back you up. – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS