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How Employees Can Maintain Mental Health During Covid-19 | Employee Mental Health

Kate Williams

22 January 2021

10 min read

If there is one year that changed the conversation around mental health, it is the year that we just passed by. 2020 will go down in the annals of history as one of the most challenging years for the entire world. The pandemic and the subsequent lockdown has employee mental health concerns hitting the roof. During this time period, if you felt alone or helpless, even though you had a lot of resources to fall back on, don’t chide yourself. These are trying times. 

Employee mental health should be one of the top priorities of businesses so that they don’t feel as if they are left alone to themselves. Covid-19 has been an unprecedented disaster for a lot of employees who are uncertain if they will have a job by the end of the month or not. Without a doubt, things like this can have a serious impact on employee mental health and employee well-being. 

For every employee who is going through a torrid phase mentally, feel free to follow these to keep your sanity alive.

Ways To Keep Employee Mental Health In Check

1. Create a routine

The word routine is usually associated with mundane, and that is so farther from the truth. Having a routine in place to do your day-to-day activities helps you with something to look forward to. When your schedule is completely out of your reach, it will put you under stress. You will be able to manage uncertainties more easily. Employee mental health will drastically improve when there is a routine that they have set up for themselves. As a business which has these employees on your roll, it is pivotal that you use this time to concentrate on employee health and safety.

2. Stay connected with one another

We cannot think of a better time to stay connected with one’s peers. Talk to your friends, colleagues, family, support system, anyone who wants to see you happy. Employers should also create an environment which shows that you care about employee mental health. 

Because of the pandemic, it is impossible to go out, so what’s the next best option available? Technology. Use apps like Skype, FaceTime, Google Hangout, Zoom, etc., to keep in touch with your loved ones. Do remember that during this time, you should keep yourself away from negative influences, it is easy to get bogged down because of all of this. 

3. Switch off the news

One of the easiest ways to get stressed out is to listen to the news everyday. More often than not, most of the news materials these days are negative. So if you want to feel as if you live in a world that is always falling into an abyss, then it is all right to watch the news every day. 24-hour news channels have stopped becoming informational long back. With the pandemic still looming large in our lives, you should not make yourself feel even more trapped and miserable. Quit the news for some time, unless of course your work revolves around watching the news broadcast. 

4. Respect your body

This is a time when you are more likely to consume extra helpings of your favorite food items to make yourself feel good. You can’t be blamed for that unless you do it every single day without watching what goes into your body. Since most of us are cooped up inside our homes, it becomes all the more easy to eat comfort food. 

Include meditation as a part of your daily regimen. There is no doubt about how great it is for your mind as well as body. It will keep you calm, help you accept the current circumstances and work around it. 

Watch the food that you eat every day. Eat enough that will keep you satisfied. If you want to order greasy food, keep a limit on how many times you can do it in a week, otherwise, you will let it run astray. Take a walk after each meal so that you don’t feel full and stuffed. Limit your alcohol consumption. Try to reduce smoking as much as possible. We do understand that smoking can bring you relief for the time being, but it is easy to consume a lot of cigarettes than normal during a situation like this. Control yourself and respect your body, you will come out feeling even better than you were earlier when all of this dies down and things get back to normal.

5. Start writing a journal

Record your day’s events and observations by journaling every day. But it should not stop with that, you should write about your feelings and emotions. It will make you feel lighter and better than normal. Think of it as pouring your heart out to someone. You can even write about the things that you are grateful for. By feeling grateful, you will be able to kindle positive thoughts in your mind. 

By writing consistently, you will be able to understand what truly matters in your life and will be able to appreciate the little things in your life that matters. It lowers your stress level, improves your sleep quality and even increases your self-esteem. 

How businesses can take care of employee mental health

1. Check-in with your team

No, we are not referring to asking your employees if they have finished their work on time. Instead, check up on them, ask them if they feel good, and require any assistance from you. Your employee well-being is important for you. Even after the pandemic gets over, ensure that you create a culture where employee health is something that is always asked about. 

You can also use a on online survey software like SurveySparrow to roll out employee engagement surveys, employee satisfaction surveys, etc. Here’s an employee survey created using SurveySparrow..

To create similar employee surveys, you can sign up for FREE on SurveySparrow.

Encourage your employees to share how they feel about themselves, the work that they are getting, and so on. At no point should the employee feel as if they are a liability. Address the concerns that they have, be compassionate towards them. While they might not want to share the details, there is no harm in asking them to know about your employee mental health. 

2. Communicate often

Employees feel that when there is not much communication between their reporting manager, it makes them feel insecure, uneasy and less important. Ensure that as an employer you instruct your managers to keep the employees informed about any changes in the organization. 

By constantly communicating with each other, there will be more trust between each other. This will also reduce the mental burden that they might have developed over the years. Set clear expectations about the work that is expected of them, prioritize what is necessary and which are the tasks that can be done later. 

3. Offer resources

Provide employee mental health resources and ask them to consume it regularly. Normalize talking about mental health in the office. While caring for employee mental health should have been a top priority even before the pandemic, you can still up your efforts even now. Senior leaders should be instructed to talk to all the employees and inform them about the various resources that are available for employee well-being. Ask the employees to use these resources often and even encouraging them to seek treatment if there is a need for that. 

4. Be flexible

These are some of the most trying times in your employees’ lives. Employee mental health is without a doubt at its lowest ever. Each of them are worried about something or the other and have issues at home that need to be taken care of too. Businesses need to be flexible. Encourage your employees to take as many leaves as is necessary. There is no need to micromanage your employees as they are adults who can take care of their work. 

If there are any issues that crop up because an employee wasn’t in the best of health, then his/her work colleagues can handle the situation for some time. Do not berate them for the issue that came up. Instead, offer help. Be empathetic towards them because they might have serious issues in their life that they are not obligated to share it with you. Their child might be sick or their elderly parents are going through a health crisis. Events like this can be emotionally traumatizing for people, and it becomes difficult to give their best at their job. This is where you need to be a responsible and understanding employer.

5. Be vulnerable as an organization

The pandemic isn’t a great time for an organization to maintain a stiff upper lip. You should instead show your vulnerable side. The management shouldn’t try to make it look as if everything is normal. It is not normal- all of us have to accept and acknowledge that. Even if you are the CEO, you might be going through some moments of vulnerability. Share them with your employees. When your employees hear this, they will know that you care about your employee mental health and employee well-being. 

Share your experiences with each other. If that doesn’t happen, there is no way for you to counteract the after-effects of the pandemic. You will not be able to guarantee your employee well-being or employee health and safety. Let your employees know that your doors are open for them if they ever want to have a talk with you. 

6. Ask for feedback

Employees might be uncomfortable sharing some of their emotions openly, especially with the company. You can give them a forum to share their worries by asking them to respond to an anonymous survey. You can send employee engagement surveys to understand the kind of effects that your engagement activities are bearing on mental health. 

Create employee surveys where you ask them questions which are drafted in consultations with trained therapists which will help them unearth their emotions. This employee survey can be anonymous and the information gathered from this should only be used for activities that will help with employee health and safety. Authentic leadership creates much better employee satisfaction than anything else. 

7. Create a buddy system

Most companies have a buddy system, but the objective there was usually to help each other work-wise. Right now, we are suggesting you to use the buddy system to concentrate on your employee mental health. Pair a senior person with someone who is new to the organization or is younger to the other person. The senior buddy should not be judgemental towards the younger person and should act like how a friend who cares about the mental health of a friend would. The junor buddy can ask them questions ranging from employee appraisals to methods employed for employee satisfaction, or the lack thereof. 

In fact, both the employees should be asked to look out for each other, especially in terms of employee mental health. This will make each other feel less isolated when there is someone to talk to and it will help with employee well-being. 

8. Prioritize employee well-being on the benefits plan

While employers should care about employee well-being and employee mental health even during normal times, Covid-19 should force them to rethink about the benefits that they offer. One of the best ways to show that you really care about employee health and safety is by making changes to the benefits plan that they are currently under. 

You can safely assume that your employees’ mental health will be affected, which will lead to increased medical costs. Help them by arranging for counselors as well as negotiate better health insurance terms for them. Offer them more sops that will help them navigate through this time smoothly. 

9. Introduce stress-busting initiatives

To concentrate on employee mental health, it is advised to introduce initiatives that will reduce employee’s stress. Share memes, light-hearted jokes, and funny videos Encourage such conversation. If you are on Slack, create a separate place on Slack where you can share such materials. Think of it is a go-to place where everyone can say anything within reasonable limits of course. 

Take collective tea breaks where you can chit chat about random things. Your employees will be missing the proverbial ‘water cooler conversations’, so offer them that atmosphere, albeit virtually. Sign them up for hobby classes based on their interests, this will completely change the narrative and give people time to do something apart from their jobs. 

10. Modify existing policies, if necessary

If any of your existing policies and practices do not make sense in the current scenario, stop following them for better employee mental health and employee satisfaction. Even a simple rule that everyone should start their work by 9 AM can be difficult for most people since your employees have to take care of household work too. It might be resulting in a lot of stress for some of your employees. So if you insist that everyone starts working from 9 AM because that is how it was earlier too, then it will lead to a lot of friction. By doing so, you are unnecessarily creating stress for your employee, and being completely oblivious to your employee health. 

Try to reframe your performance review parameters too and be less stricter when it comes to achieving targets. Consumer behaviour, even in B2B buying is not the same anymore. There is a lot of uncertainty that has forced many businesses to reduce their spending, and it will directly affect your business. Each of the changes that you make with respect to the policies should be to support the mental health of your employees. Explicitly state that you plan to make amends to support employee well-being and mental health. 

11. Invest in training

Conduct proactive mental workplace health training for the leadership team, managers and individuals. It will lead to more initiviates for mental health because everyone will understand its importance and will be able to offer suggestions. It will help debunk the most popular myths about mental health, reduce the stigma surrounding it and allow people to talk about it more openly. 

Even if you don’t have a huge budget for it, you will be able to find many mental health employee resource groups that will help in the form of a community and offer peer support. Get everyone to talk about employee mental health  

Wrapping it up.. 

All of us want things to get normal tomorrow, but that’s not unfortunately how a pandemic works. Until then, we should support each other and take care of ourselves so that we don’t drown ourselves in a cesspool of pity and dread, compounded by poor mental health. Businesses should use this opportunity to concentrate on how the workplace was earlier and make the necessary changes immediately so that employee mental health will not be a problem anymore because you worked towards it. 

Use employee engagement surveys to understand what your employees are going through. Ask them questions like how they are handling work and personal life during the pandemic? How are they spending their free time? If they require any sort of assistance from the company, monetarily or otherwise? Do everything possible in your power to make your employees feel sound and safe. 

Use the online survey tool SurveySparrow to create a survey to ask your employees. If you were looking to use an online survey tool, then we will be more than happy to help you with it.

Here is a piece of advice for all business owners- Constantly worry about your employee mental health! Also, that was a deliberate pun. 

Kate Williams

Content Marketer at SurveySparrow

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