Working During COVID-19: Taking Care of Your Employees’ Mental Health

The increasing severity of COVID-19 (coronavirus) has left many shaken and anxious about the uncertainty that it carries. A significant amount of workers are facing job loss because of inadequate support and an unstable market, leaving many employees feeling stressed and anxious.

There has never been a more vital time for companies to prioritize maintaining a positive workplace and help employees with their mental well-being, but managing and supporting the mental health of a company’s workplace is no easy task. With the various stressors that COVID-19 brings, individuals can and will easily act in ways that are abnormal to their character. It is crucial for companies to be adequately prepared for new challenges and support their employees in a way that is positive and open. We are living in a crisis, so being in full understanding of how to support your employees during this pandemic is essential.

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Knowledge is Power

Being trained for workplace wellness management is one thing, but indefinite remote communication of employees can be difficult to manage. The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted each employees’ mental well-being differently and it is important to recognize that it can manifest in various ways. The amount of information being blasted by the news alone can leave people feeling fearful and overwhelmed. Being stuck indoors and away from social gatherings can begin to affect mental health and daily function, resulting in consequences in both the personal and professional lives of an employee. Those employees with pre-existing mental health issues will be more likely to be affected. Below we list a few of the emotional reactions that can occur with COVID-19.

Common COVID-19 responses:

  • Worried and stressed out easily
  • Feelings of isolation and depression
  • Uneasiness throughout the day
  • Not adhering to typical activities
  • Concern for the safety of loved ones 
  • Feelings of helplessness
  • Inadequate sleeping patterns

Severe COVID-19 responses:

  • Inability to focus on a task and constantly distracted by thoughts
  • Fear/paranoia of others and constant checking of their symptoms
  • Insomnia 
  • Constant checking of the news

Maintaining psychological well-being during a time of uncertainty is very difficult and can be emotionally draining for many. Being on the lookout for these emotional responses can help you counter their negative effects and provide support to your employees. 

HR to the Rescue

In a unique situation such as the one we are presently living through, it is fundamental to highlight that everyone is dealing with their own set of individual challenges. Getting proper support during the COVID-19 outbreak can mean a significant difference in the lives of your employees. A thoughtful approach and strong support will build the trust your employees have in your company and their future within it, but it all starts with how employers treat their workers during this time. 

Employers must be:

  • Understanding about the uniqueness of this pandemic 
  • Flexible to accommodate employees during unexpected times
  • Empathetic to those who have been impacted by COVID-19, whether in a big or small way

But how do employers facilitate open communication and support when their employees are working from home? In this situation, remote communication becomes the stepping stone to any support system a company will be executing. The Human Resources department of a company must have the proper training to do mental health check-ins, which can occur through online platforms like Zoom or Skype. Remote communication will work best if you make it an appealing source of help. The communication must be relaxed and open, but never invasive. It is important that your employees feel supported in a way that is authentic. The more open you seem, the more transparent and honest your professional relationships will be. The time to act is now and the response that is delivered will make or break the trust of individuals. 

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10 Tips to Support Mental Well-Being

Having the right system in place with resources readily available for employees is a priceless addition to your workplace. Having a few ideas ready to use will be helpful for forming a proactive response to these new sets of challenges. Below we have detailed some fast and easy tips to get you started on maintaining your workplace wellness and easing the minds of your employees during these challenging times.

  1. Accept your emotional reactions. Acknowledge any worries openly and express your emotions.
  2. Focus on the controllable. Instead of worrying about what you can’t change, focus on what you can do for yourself, your team, and those you are self-isolating with.
  3. Practice self-care. Be kind to yourself and look after your mental and physical health.
  4. Do your research. Research to fully understand the pandemic and the risks involved as well as the resources available to you in your area.
  5. Choose the news.  Minimize your exposure to news that you might find disturbing or upsetting. Stay updated on the situation without overwhelming yourself, and choose a news source that is credible.
  6. Ask for help. Reach out when you find yourself in need of some extra help and support. Make sure you know what resources are available to you, and make use of them when needed.
  7. Take it one day at a time. Focusing on the now and the daily tasks you have set for yourself will give you a sense of control and structure. 
  8. Consider your ‘quaranteam’. Whether isolating alone or with your loved ones, you have a network of people in place who are experiencing the same situation together. While our responses may all be different, it’s important to remind yourself that you’re not alone during this time. 
  9. Fight, don’t fly. Be proactive and make a prevention plan, rather than avoiding the future. Brainstorming policy changes that can help your workplace is beneficial for a couple of reasons: it keeps your mind focused on a task, and shifts your focus to action instead of avoidance. 
  10. Don’t test your limits. Now is the time to prioritize the health, safety, and mental well-being of yourself and those around you more than ever. This means being aware of personal limits, being okay with saying no, and maintaining clear and open communication. 

Get Help From the HR Experts at Imagine Better Solutions

Companies are in need of COVID-19 mental health aid and we are here to help. Now more than ever, HR is a crucial component of a healthy work environment. We offer optimized HR solutions that will help you maintain positive workplace well-being for you and your team. Contact us today to get started.