Very few cultures openly accept and discuss mental and emotional health despite its importance and the impact on life. However, mental and emotional health is often one of the first casualties in any crisis, and with the COVID-19 pandemic dragging on, many people are beginning to feel the strain. As leaders of teams, what can you do to support them? What tools are available?
Mental and Emotional Well-Being
Even if you’re feeling fine, your team and colleagues may not. Put into place a few concepts to help your team:
- Recognize the Issue: Everyone reacts differently to stress and it’s not always immediate or obvious. Act now. Be open with staff and encourage discussion. Regular open meetings are useful as is offering the possibility to ask questions with complete anonymity (online Frequently Asked Questions, for example).
- Work-Life Balance: Make sure your team has a healthy work-life balance. Avoid assigning tasks just before your team finishes for the day or weekend. Address any issues quickly and promote a culture where you discuss free-time activities and interests. Consider using online communication systems to facilitate sharing fun videos, photos, and comments.
- Support: Look into what support your staff needs. This could range from meeting up for virtual coffee breaks to hosting special workshops on dealing with stress. Investigate what paid support is available and see if you can negotiate a discount. Keep regular contact with ALL your team, and dedicate time to non-work related topics.
- Websites: There are many websites dedicated to improving mental and emotional health. For example:
The Role of Leadership
During a crisis managers need to embrace the role of team leader. Younger, inexperienced staff may lack a more comprehensive perspective of the business and require strong leadership. Your responsibility is to lead them through this difficult period, taking care of their mental and emotional health as well as safeguarding their physical health.
Some basics to help you during the crisis:
- Lead by Example: Don’t just say, DO! Before asking your team to change, how can you change YOUR behavior? Examine how you talk to your team, the tone of emails, your reactions, your attitude. Exemplary? Start with yourself, and your team will follow.
- Communicate: Communication is not simply sending endless emails or one-way meetings; it’s about clarity, content, the audience, the different channels, and listening. If you’re not getting the message across, then take a step back.
- Information: Ignorance is definitely not bliss. In fact, it’s a major cause of anxiety and mistrust. Inform your staff of what’s going on. Do they know how successful Wall Street English 100% Online is? Have you shared any testimonials with them? Who is selling the most at the moment? What are your plans to continue the success? Tell them about the future and inspire them.
- Honesty: It is remarkably refreshing to deal with an honest and straightforward manager. There is no room for doubt or misunderstanding. Whether the message is positive or negative, you respect and follow that manager.
- Personalize: You know that personalized attention is the Wall Street English way. However, are you leading by example? Do you know your team’s individual fears and needs? What does each one need at the moment? Now is the time to personalize your support to them.
- Thank You: It’s amazing what these two words can achieve. Show you care and appreciate your staff’s commitment. Even amidst the rush, find the time to say thanks.
Remember Physical Well-Being
The link between physical and mental well-being is well known and you can help your team:
- Work Facilities: Have you installed any new protective measures (screens, partitions, signage)? Do they need training? How about teleworking? How can you help your team work more effectively?
- Exercise: Look into company gym memberships (off- and/or on-line). Many fitness providers are keen to attract membership and it’s a great way to show you care for your team. Or, send staff news highlighting different ways and videos to look after physical health.
- Nutrition: Eating well is key to good health so investigate ways you can encourage your team to eat healthily. Find out who the ‘chefs’ are in your team and get them to share recipes. Host a (virtual) competition to see who can make the healthiest breakfast or snack with participants sharing photos or videos.
- Rest: You may be a workaholic, but don’t expect the same of your team. Look after them, make sure they take time off and respect their personal lives.