May is Mental Health Awareness Month

May 7, 2020 | Blog

In support of Mental Awareness Health Month 2020, let’s take a moment to discuss what you as an employer can do to support employees during this unprecedented time of stress and uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  As employees face multiple changes and challenges not only in their work life, but also their home life, they can easily become overwhelmed and begin to experience crippling levels of stress and anxiety.  Now is the time for leaders to demonstrate they are committed to their employee’s mental health and overall well-being.

Especially during times of crisis, the leader’s job is to provide effective communication and support to their workforce.  Communicating frequently, confidently, and with accuracy will help to allay some fears and help minimize anxiety. Being open and as transparent as possible, even if it means you need more information before providing an answer builds trust between the leader and staff. Regardless of your communication, some employees will still experience distress during situations like this.

If you are unsure of the signs, some indicators that you should be watching for include, erratic work hours or lack of availability, frequent complaints related to physical well-being, an increase in anger or irritability, prolonged sadness, and constant worry.  These behaviors are challenging to notice when most or all of your workforce is working remotely, so it is important to check in regularly with your teleworkers by phone or video conferencing.

If you do find that a staff member is experiencing any of the above indicators, you can direct the employee to the mental health resources offered and covered in the employees’ benefits plans, including counselors they can call, meditation and stress management services and access to employee assistance programs.  Additionally, many of these services are available remotely via technology. Another smart step is to train your managers to recognize the signs and making sure they demonstrate empathy when responding to co-workers in distress.

In summary, keep a constant pulse on how your employees are coping with the stressful changes they are experiencing during this pandemic, demonstrate supportive listening when needed, be consistent with communication and support, and communicate available resources should someone require professional help.

It never hurts to remind your employees that pandemics end, economies recover, and people survive and even sometimes thrive when faced with formidable circumstances.  We will make it through this!

As always, please reach out if you have any questions.   The CTCS Group is here to help.

Chris Thomas, SHRM-SCP is the Principal Consultant with The CTCS Group in Canton, GA.  The CTCS Group is focused on providing HR Leadership, Behavioral Assessments, and Consulting to help small businesses grow and thrive.  You can subscribe to this blog or request a free consultation at www.thectcsgroup.com.

Disclaimer:  The information and recommendations provided in this document should not be considered legal advice and should not substitute for legal advice where the facts and circumstances warrant.  Recommendations are provided based on good faith assessment and interpretation of the available legal and regulatory resources.

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