Mental health for your employees was a hot topic pre COVID-19. Throw remote working, juggling childcare and a global pandemic into the mix and you really have your work cut out.
However you did – or didn’t, address mental health and emotional wellbeing before all of this happened, NOW is the time to step up and take care of your people.
Before we share our suggestions on how, we want you to know…we understand that this is a difficult time for you too. As an employer, you are sharing all of the same worries and fears as your employees – as well as the burden of your business. So, please take a moment to read our blog on how to thrive during isolation and also your emotional wellbeing during isolation. It’s important to take care of yourself as well as our colleagues, so you can remain strong enough to support your team and steer this ship through the storm.
1. Check in regularly – Don’t just be there for the crisis Zoom meetings and emailing only when you’re forwarding information. Schedule in regular chat time with your team. Put a meeting in your diary and make sure you both keep to it. Ensure your team members know that this is their opportunity to talk about them. The rule book has been well and truly thrown out of the window and whatever relationship you had with your team before, the world is a different place now. You can still maintain a professional relationship whilst showing that you care. You don’t have to have all the answers, sometimes the best thing you can offer is a listening ear.
2. Be open to new ways of working – It’s important to recognise what’s working and what’s not. Even if you had a fool proof crisis plan worked out way before the coronavirus lockdown, when put into practice for real – if it’s not achieving results…pivot! Listen to your team and give their suggestions a trial and error period. It might not be what you had planned, but if it gets results then go with it. You now have the benefit of rewriting that crisis plan should you ever need it in the future. This is a great learning opportunity so be fluid and take time to reflect.
3. Create a wellness plan – Some members of your team are going to need extra support during this time. And even if they don’t, by creating a Wellness Action Plan you have practical ways to help your team when they aren’t having a great day. You can download a guide for yourself and your employees from Mind right here.
“Why not mix up the technology and use voice messages with your team, instead of texts and short emails? Hearing your voice – especially if it’s a ‘wellness check in’ might achieve a better response from some. They may feel more comfortable to reply in an honest way. ‘Hi it’s Garry, you’ve put in a lot of hours today so please go and take a break. And please get in touch if you need anything.’”
Garry Howling, Public Practice Recruitment Ltd
4. Understand individual needs – Here’s a curve ball! We wouldn’t want to judge or generalise, but sometimes accountants quite enjoy silence and solitude. A quiet home office with an opportunity to crunch some serious numbers might just be bliss for some! There will be members of your team who don’t need to be around people constantly. They recharge their energy levels with alone time. Having your boss checking in constantly might actually be the cause of stress for some. So, try to be aware of each person’s needs and create a good balance.
5. Signpost mental health support – Finally, we mentioned earlier that you don’t need to have all the answers. Just being there for your team is sometimes enough. But if you do need extra help supporting a team member who is really struggling with their mental health, you need to take action. In our previous blog, we shared details on various organisations who can offer professional support during this time. Why not share this with your team BEFORE they get to breaking point?
As an employer, you have been challenged with so many issues this last month – just to keep your firm afloat. So, we appreciate that chatting to employees may not be top of your agenda today. But it’s business critical to keep yourself and your team safe and healthy.