Emotionally, some employees are faring better than others over the events that have unfolded over the last several months, while some colleagues are struggling. How do managers support their team members’ mental health to maintain engagement and productivity at the individual level?
Get to know employee circumstances
It is more important than ever to understand each employee’s situation. These life circumstances have a direct impact on your team member’s stress level, work from home ability and necessity, and anxiety impact. Do they have a spouse who has been laid off? Do they have children at home but no childcare support? Or have they been isolating isolated and need more interaction? Knowing these factors will help shape management decisions for each individual teammate with empathy.
Create a safe space for sharing
Often employees are reticent to share their circumstances or to express their insecurities because they fear for their job. Emotional wellness has not necessarily been a topic actively discussed in the workplace. That may still be the case at most companies, but managers influence the culture of the team. Making it acceptable to safely share with the manager starts with the manager. An effective strategy to encourage confidence in sharing without repercussions is for the manager to share their own story. If managers are open about how they might be struggling, team members will feel safe to share their struggles.
Lead by self-care example
Chances are that at a time when anxiety is at an all-time high, employees are less likely to take the time they need to take care of themselves. Some may be working more than ever because they need the distraction, or are afraid to appear underperforming when colleagues have been let go or furloughed. Or they do not want to reveal their mental health struggles by seeking self-care avenues. This is where a manager’s behavior can be an example. Managers should take their accrued time off, make conspicuous use of mental health days, speak about self-care rituals and actions that have been helpful, and more. Normalizing self-care can inspire self-care proactivity on the team.
Be a source for resources
A great way to support the team is to be the go-to expert on mental health and emotional wellness resources. This includes increasing employee awareness about the company’s healthcare plan features and other programs the company may make available to support employee emotional well-being. Also, compiling a list of publicly accessible mental health and self-care programs, campaigns, activities, and apps would be a welcome addition to the psychological wellness toolkit. As mentioned previously, managers can share which resources they have personally found helpful, which will help remove the stigma of seeking support when feeling emotionally drained.Managers play an outsized role in influencing employee behavior. They can use this power for the greater good by extending it beyond workplace productivity and focusing on team wellness. For our full report on mental health in the workplace, click here.