A report from 2019 showed nearly 50 million adult Americans were suffering with some form of mental illness with less than half receiving any type of care. Regardless of cause or severity, many were anxious and fearful to seek help due to perceived implications to their careers and social stigma related to mental health concerns.
Then the lockdowns began, adding a new intensity to everyday stressors compounded with isolation. Recent research from Harvard Business Review found that 75% people say that they feel more isolated, 67% report higher stress levels, and 53% feel emotionally exhausted.
Some companies had already begun to have a more employee focused wellness program to help those struggling with added pressures of today’s complex environment. However, 40% of surveyed individuals state that their company has yet to inquire about well-being at all.
What can companies and management teams do?
To deliver programs that benefit your employees and get them quickly aligned, employers and managers need increased empathy combined with strategic and targeted workplace communications. That starts at the top with understanding the needs of the whole employee and not merely work life needs.
During times of crisis, communication is more important than ever to ease anxiety and fear. Increase your level of internal communications around the crisis but also use this strategy to incorporate more conversations about the overall health and wellness of your employees.
Make Wellbeing a Top Priority
The mental and physical wellbeing of your staff should be the foremost concern for any employer. Start using feedback as a driver of overall sentiment among your employees. Surveys are a great way to gather information that can be insightful in managing your return schedule, as well as, asking will contribute to a sense of belonging and contribute to a new culture of care. Additionally, continued feedback insights will help you drive a positive change creating a new work environment that is more rewarding for everyone.
Leverage Internal resources
Considering all the potential for the unknown, enterprises should first look internally at the resources and personnel that can aid in your new strategy. Remote or hybrid strategies aren’t going away so a coordinated effort between HR and internal workforce communications will become the foundation of a program that will aid all in adapting to the new workplace environment, while maintaining or increasing productivity and retention.
Engage Differently by Leveraging Technology
Businesses are now realizing that the effort to get people to come back to the office is no small feat and are changing the way interactions are conducted to reinforce safety measures. Low touch and no touch are becoming familiar terms in management meetings all over the world. Companies are leveraging mobile applications for attendance, productivity management with workforce allocation, others are leveraging their digital maturity and further refining B2B commerce and supply chain automation.
Increase Team Member Engagement
Working in isolation for extended periods of time creates anxiety and fear with no outlet to vent emotional stresses that build. Human resource leaders need to realize the affective changes that are taking place and how engagement strategies can produce positive outcomes for the wellbeing of their teams. To sustain and grow company culture and maintain interactions with employees consider virtual team building exercises. Encourage more interaction with gamification, virtual parties/happy hours, meditation & yoga classes or even online classes.
Encourage Open Discussions
The pandemic did produce at least one positive change in that people are much more receptive to talking about mental health. Managers should actively encourage, still resistant, employees to allay those fears with open, empathetic dialog. Human resources should be spearheading programs and communication tools that provide that extra touch to ensure that affected employees don’t suffer in silence.
Work life balance and boundaries are being redefined everyday as are the responsibilities of company leaders. The time is now for companies and their leaders, navigating these unsure times, to embrace the new shift to a more employee centric workplace that ensures engagement and productivity.
If you’re ready to find out how a better workplace communication and engagement platform can drive better business results even in chaotic times, fill out the demo form here and one of our representatives will contact you to set up a personalized demonstration of the platform.