We’re all living through an unprecedented moment in history. Each of us faces a wide array of challenging headwinds every day that can make handling our daily responsibilities—including our jobs—difficult to say the least. The abrupt and often rapidly-shifting changes we’re all being forced to accommodate into our lives are by no means easy to cope with, and even the most dedicated and capable of employees can find themselves struggling to keep it all together.
If you’re running a company or are part of its human resources or leadership team, making sure that your employees are doing well and maintaining a healthy mental balance and outlook is likely chief among your goals right now. And it stands to reason that this is important to you—beneath our work titles and roles, we’re all just people and care about those in our orbits. You likely have long-established relationships with your colleagues that may go back several years, so of course, you want to make sure they’re all doing okay.
Beyond the obvious humanitarian reasons, you’re also a business leader. Ensuring that your employees are safe, sound, and doing well has obvious professional benefits—simply put, healthy employees are typically more productive and efficient employees, both through short-term challenges as well as over the long haul.
Furthermore, today’s employees care about more than just a paycheck when it comes to work—they want to know that the companies they work for have positive, employee-centric perspectives that go beyond just hype and brand marketing jargon. Knowing that they work for a company that truly cares about their health and well-being and actively strives to support them through good times and more challenging moments can go a long way toward gaining their trust, loyalty, and enthusiasm.
Hopefully, by now the reasons for supporting the mental health of your employees is obvious, so consider adopting the following strategies to help your teams stay healthy.
Have a plan
Keep in mind that helping your employees maintain a positive and healthy well-being is not going to be a “once and done” affair that you can check off of your to-do list. You can’t just deliver one motivational speech and consider your work done. Especially now, when many of us are facing new and daunting challenges that we’ve never had to before, this is going to be an ongoing effort that meets each individual employee on their terms and takes their unique life situation into account—both today and as things change over time.
You need to have a fully developed and comprehensive wellness plan that includes professional support and services from mental health experts. If you can extend your suite of employee benefits to include these services at little or no charge to them, even better. Remember, you may be a captain of industry, a seasoned veteran in your field, a great judge of talent, and a compassionate and supportive manager, but chances are you’re not an expert in the field of mental health. So yes, be supportive, but leave it to the experts to address any and all serious issues that your employees may be facing.
Many employees today are working from home, which means they have to handle their tasks and responsibilities in more challenging environments than ever before. Those of you with young children who are trying to juggle it all are well aware of this. Others are struggling with the added isolation of not being surrounded by colleagues on a daily basis, which can have a real adverse effect on mental health. Staying closely connected with your teams through friendly emails, regular calls, and video conferences can really go a long way to helping employees feel engaged and supported. Again, if you try and make this a “one and done” activity or something that continually gets rescheduled or brushed off, your employees will likely see through your halfhearted efforts and it may have the reverse effect—so be careful with your commitment.
The truth is, many of us are struggling right now, and it’s harder than ever for most of us to remain engaged and productive on a full-time basis. So, consider being more understanding than before if an employee needs additional time to complete a project, if they’re having a tough day and need some unanticipated time off or a break, or if they just need to vent or hear a friendly and supportive voice. Chances are you’d want the same thing from your boss if the situation were reversed and you were struggling through a moment, so be good enough to offer empathy as needed. And remember to guide them toward available professional mental health support services whenever appropriate.
Show how much you care
The old maxim that you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar has stood the test of time because it’s nearly universally true—but it’s arguably more important today than ever before. All of your employees, even your most reliable and consistent performers, are likely riding a rollercoaster of good and bad moments these days. Don’t forget that showing a little extra appreciation to them right now, which can come in a variety of formats—from a simple note to a thoughtful bonus or incentive—can go a long way toward ensuring that your team feels appreciated and supported right now. Consider it a wise team-building investment.