The COVID-19 pandemic has brought with it massive uncertainty with regards to the global economy. With physical businesses shutting down and supply chains being disrupted, this uncertainty only continues to grow. Uncertainty breeds anxiety, and between rising numbers of COVID-19 cases, questions about whether or not to reopen economies and businesses, and other horrible things that 2020 had instore for us; our mental health has certainly taken a toll.
Even at the earliest stages of the pandemic, we already began seeing the impact of the coronavirus on the mental health of workers. Mind Share Partners, conducted a study of global employees in partnership with Qualtrics and SAP, finding that up to 42 percent of respondents reported a decline in mental health since the outbreak began. Given all that’s happened between then and now, we can only imagine that the figure has increased.
Prior to the pandemic, companies had already begun to see the significance of caring for employee mental health, implementing many initiatives to improve it. Unfortunately, there are still many businesses that have yet to catch on.
Even in the most uncertain of times, the role of a manager remains the same: to support team members. That includes supporting their mental health. The good news is that many of the tools you need to do so are the same ones that makes an effective manager.
Here are a few things that managers can do to help support their team members’ mental health.
Model healthy behaviours
Don’t just say you support mental health. Model it so that your team members feel they can prioritise self-care and set boundaries. Share that you’re taking a walk in the middle of the day, having a therapy appointment, or prioritising a staycation so that you don’t burn out.
Offer flexibility and be inclusive
Expect that the situation, your team’s needs, and your own needs will continue to change. Check in regularly, particularly at transition points. You can help problem-solve any issues that come up only if you know what’s happening. Inclusive flexibility is about proactive communication and norm-setting that helps people design and preserve the boundaries they need.
Communicate more than you need to
Make sure you keep your team informed about any organisational changes or updates. Clarify any modified work hours and norms. Remove stress where possible by setting expectations about workloads, prioritising what must get done, and acknowledging what can slide if necessary. Make your team aware of available mental health resources and encourage them to use them.