While it may be years before researchers and sociologists uncover the true cost of COVID-19, here is what we do know about organizations:
Reducing the Negative Workforce Mental Health Impacts of COVID-19
It’s been said that employees do not quit jobs, they quit their boss. As a digital mental health organization, employers have reached out and requested we onboard manager training to ensure their team leaders recognize when employees exhibit signs of mental health struggles. Through our digital platform and workshops, we help leaders, managers, and employees build their self-awareness and boundaries to ensure they gain the real-life tools they need to successfully manage their mental health for whatever life throws at them.
As we slowly move forward from the initial lockdown of COVID-19, it will be even more important for managers to encourage employees to turn off work at a reasonable hour. Even the best and most resilient employees aren’t built to sustain long-periods of cognitive functioning without a meaningful break. HR and department leaders should encourage and implement policies to help their workforce turn off work and recharge their energy. For example, restrict managers from sending emails after 5 PM local time.
The term “burnout” is often cited as a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. The problem with burnout is oftentimes employees wear it like a badge of honour, a reminder that they are relied on. However, what employees may not know is that burnout is a direct pathway to depression. Burnout not only impacts your cells and organs, but it also impacts your brain a great deal leading to higher risks in human error, poorer judgement and critical thinking, and substance abuse. As such, HR and department heads should re-evaluate employee mental health programs and policies to ensure it combats a culture that may lead to high-levels of burnout, especially in a pandemic when employees are experiencing elevated levels of stress, anxiety, depression, and burnout.
Low Team Morale
Low team morale is one of the greatest challenges managers face, but it’s also one of the most important issues to deal with in an authentic, honest, and approachable way. This is particularly important for organizations that have gone through a series of layoffs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many teams have likely lost a few members, leaving the remaining ones left to take on the extra work. To help rebuild team morale, managers should openly address problems head-on and use it as an opportunity to seek feedback and look for solutions. As stress and negative behaviour often leads to disruptions and lower team morale, it’s important for managers to create a safe space where employees feel comfortable talking about their frustrations, anxieties, and stresses at work. Managers should then ensure resources are available to help them.
Mental Health Program Gaps
In Canada, the Psychological Health and Safety Standards was created to raise awareness around the factors impacting the mental health of workforces. As a key first step, the standards encourage organizations to evaluate gaps within their mental health policies, and onboard processes and solutions to improve the mental resilience of employees. As such, organizations should collect employee survey results and feedback on what type of mental health support and tools employees want and need.
An important step to helping businesses recover from extraordinary events like pandemics is to make safeguarding employee mental health a goal, and revise mental health policies accordingly. Remember, businesses need to recover, which means employees need to recover as well. Right now, employees will struggle to gain access to mental healthcare due to wait times, therefore have digital solutions in place to act as a second line of defense to safeguard employee mental health.
Download the Infographic: Six Greatest Mental Health Challenges HR Leaders Face from COVID-19 Pandemic
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