A year ago, the words overwhelm, and overwork had different meanings: long hours at the office, working overtime and juggling time for family.
Then came the pandemic and a whole new reality. It’s called…working from home where both employers and employees have had to transition, and the changes are taking toll on their mental health.
Managers can’t fix everything, but they can support their teams with empathy by creating a healthy environment during these precarious times.
Tips for Managers
- Promote wellness – Encourage employees to take care of themselves. Good mental health at work and good management go hand in hand. There is strong evidence that workplaces with high levels of mental wellbeing are more productive. Emphasize that the company understands and will work with employees to adjust schedules to accommodate childcare and caregiving of family members. Setting up weekly check-ins to talk to your employees is a good way to gauge how your employees are coping. Encourage them to utilize the Employee Assistance Program which is confidential and designed to help employees deal with challenges.
- Recharge – Employees might feel guilty about asking for time-off or even taking their vacation. It’s important to take a break to reduce the risk of burnout. Time away improves mental clarity, productivity, and focus. It leads to better outcomes for them and better outcomes for the company.
- Zoom Fatigue – Now more than ever, digital meetings and video calls are routine and replaced how we interact. The downside is meeting fatigue and draining employees’ energy. Video calls are important, but they also force us to focus more on conversations in order to absorb information. Managers should be more mindful in scheduling back-to-back calls to reduce the amount of screen time and limit the time spent.
Tips for Employees
Employees can be especially vulnerable to the stress surrounding COVID-19. Their routines have been disrupted and some find themselves working from home for the first time and are still adapting.
Here are some suggestions to help:
- Maintain a routine – Keeping the same eating and sleeping schedule can help create a sense of normalcy. By building in scheduled work and recreation time, you can focus on the present and reduce the stress. Speak to your employer if you find yourself working beyond the usual working hours. It also helps to read something positive and inspirational to fuel positivity.
- Take care of yourself – Why not try something creative. Painting, drawing or crafts can help to calm anxiety. Develop an exercise routine, meditate and remember to eat healthy. Good nutrition and exercise can help both body and mind. At least 30 minutes per day, walk, run or bike outside (at a distance to others), or exercise using online videos. Make as many healthy decisions as possible but remember to be kind to yourself. If you miss a workout or eat something that feels a little too indulgent, don’t stress. Putting added pressure on yourself in an already stressful time isn’t necessary.
- Reach out – Always stay connected
Stay in touch! Even if it is virtually. Maintaining social connection with friends and family can support your mental health and theirs. Try hosting virtual hangouts and connect with friends and family regularly via WhatsApp or social groups. Even in the workplace, it is important to maintain your social interaction with your peers and reach out to your employer should you need support. Virtual team building events and even challenges can make the work environment lighter and more enjoyable during these times.