Permanent stress has long been a hindrance to corporate well-being, especially when it leads to exhaustion, increased indifference to work, and reduced efficiency. According to a recent international study conducted by Robert Half among 1,500 senior executives, 37% of employers are aware that their employees are managing heavy workloads and are on the verge of burnout due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To help their employees, 42% of the companies surveyed have started to offer psychological support resources, and 32% have started offering comprehensive wellness programs.
The anxiety and uncertainty generated by the current pandemic are harming many managers and employees’ psychological well-being. New stressors affecting teleworkers often include increased workload due to downsizing, the inability to interact in person with co-workers, and the challenge of caring for children or older people during working hours.
During the first weeks of the pandemic, Robert Half also polled his employees to get their point of view: 37% of them say they work more overtime than before the COVID-19 crisis. Interestingly, only 10% of employees feel that the pandemic has brought them closer to their colleagues. And they are even less numerous (8%) to feel closer to their manager because of the health crisis.
Therefore, there is a lot of work to be done to preserve employees’ mental health and psychological well-being during the crisis we are going through as World Mental Health Day approaches on October 10.
Here are some suggestions that will allow managers to help their businesses deal with the pandemic.
1. Think carefully about how to approach mental health and wellness issues
Mental health has always been taboo in business, not least because some consider it immediately reminiscent of mental illness. And as Nic Marks says, “nobody wants to be seen as a ‘problem to be solved’. “
We rarely talk about mental health in the workplace because employers don’t see it as their responsibility. They are not aware of the importance of the well-being of their employees for the company.
This topic is even more important since the COVID-19 pandemic sparked an economic crisis and a transition to telecommuting. Managers who are ready to have healthy discussions about employee well-being as well as to offer a sympathetic ear to those who find it difficult to deal with new stressors, can help them avoid the overwork that often results. . By showing empathy, you can encourage your employees to come to you to talk to you about what they are going through. By better understanding the problems they encounter, you will be better able to find solutions. Many managers have recently shown that they are ready to talk about their problems, even if it means appearing vulnerable, but this openness pays off:
Employers should pay particular attention to the fact that their best employees may be the most prone to burnout. “It is obvious that burnout mainly affects people involved in their work,” explains Nic Marks. “As they have the will to surpass themselves, they tend to do too much and find themselves overwhelmed. People who are not interested in their work do not make these optional extra efforts to tire them out nervously. “
2. Communicate 2-3 times more often
As the study mentioned above, results indicate that many companies have made mental health and wellness programs a priority since the pandemic’s emergence.
Most of these programs, however, do not offer a silver bullet, according to Nic Marks. ” Many services devoted to the well-being of workers primarily provide personal improvement options, such as mindfulness therapy courses or telephone psychological assistance. These tools are useful, and companies are right to use them, but many people under pressure don’t have the time to devote to these kinds of initiatives. “
This is where their managers have a role to play. Your most powerful tool in reducing stress and avoiding employee burnout is talking to them regularly. Effective communication has always been a key management skill, but it becomes crucial when employees are no longer physically gathered in one place. It is generally advisable to talk one-to-one or with small groups of employees 2-3 times more often than you would in the office.
“We recommend that companies systematically ask each employee how they feel, for example, once a week,” adds Nic Marks. “When it’s done across the company, there are fewer poorly supervised teams because the scores are quickly visible, and senior managers can step in to provide targeted support where it’s needed. “
When speaking with your team members, try to listen to them to understand how they feel and how they deal with new stressors, such as social distancing, reduced opportunities for rest—relaxation, and distance school. Your employees can also be stressed by their friends and family members’ dismissal: this can quickly create a feeling of professional insecurity.
Of course, you may need to communicate virtually. Use video calls as soon as possible. It is surprisingly therapeutic for team members to see each other talk, strategize, smile, and laugh when most people are isolated.
Employees are likely to look forward to those short, 15-minute group calls that take place each week outside of scheduled business meetings, but be sure to limit the number of participants. “If these meetings include more than four or five people, the more introverted will not feel comfortable enough to confide,” observes Nick Marks. Too many participants in a video call can encourage side conversations, which affects the concentration and clarity of the information exchanged.
3. Relieve their workload
“Our data indicates that the work-life balance has deteriorated significantly for our clients,” says Nic Marks. ” The average score on our 0 to 100 scale was 72 before the pandemic, but it has recently fallen to 67. And those scores haven’t come back up since March. This suggests that this is more of an ongoing problem with new working ways than a temporary setback. “
Imbalances between professional and personal life are often a reflection of increased stress or even burnout. In a study conducted in September 2020 by Robert Half in the United States, we asked employees who say they are overworked about their burnout. It can be useful for managers to know the factors that bring employees to this stage. Their first response (30%) was a heavier workload. It even ranks before the inability to separate work from personal life due to teleworking (19%) and working with fewer resources and reduced budgets (14%). The response from the employers surveyed was even more telling:
If employees have too much of a workload, it is partly linked to the workforce reductions that companies have had to agree to cope with the pandemic’s economic consequences. Even if you are not currently in a position to recruit, you can take some of the pressure off your staff by recruiting competent temporary workers who will help them deal with the occasional overload of work. You can also offer more flexibility to your employees through flexible schedules, that is to say, by allowing them to divide their working day into several slots separated by breaks reserved for personal life.
Most of these slots would likely be scheduled during regular working hours, but others can be scheduled before or after if this is more convenient for some employees. Also, encourage employees to take the paid vacation to which they are entitled, even if the possibilities to travel are very limited at the moment: this will allow them to relax a little, which is the best remedy against stress. And overwork.
4. How managers can complement wellness programs:
• Understand that your involvement is essential.
• Schedule short video calls with your team each week to see how employees are dealing with new work methods and other pressures.
• Think about ideas to reduce stress and the risk of overwork.
• Show empathy: how is your team feeling, and how is it dealing with new stressors?
• Frequently organize personal video calls with each member of the team.
• Recruit employees on temporary or temporary contracts who are competent to deal with over-activity.
• Offer flexible hours.
• Encourage your employees to take their paid vacation.
Your efforts to create a work environment conducive to mental well-being will benefit your employees and your business. Due to the work pressure, employees use drugs to relax their minds, but drugs harm their mental health. So, drug addiction is a chronic disease, such as heart disease or diabetes, that cannot be cured, but it can be managed in a way that helps an addict return to a healthy and productive life. People can’t just quit addiction – they need help.
Kentucky Mental Health Care professionals can help you with Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) in overcoming your substance abuse or drug addiction.