COVID-19 has created dramatic changes in the workplace which may have impacted on the mental health of your employees.
Depending on your organisation, you and your team may now be working remotely. Alternatively, you may be running staggered rosters, or working modified duties on site.
These changes, coupled with the ongoing health and economic threat of COVID-19, can have a significant impact on employee wellbeing. As a manager, it’s important to think about how to support your staff. In particular, those struggling with stress and other emotions.
Black Dog Institute provides some important tips on what managers can do to support the mental health of employees in the workplace.
Maintain regular catch-ups with your team
Regular team catch-ups are an excellent starting point for maintaining a sense of connection with your team. While your current work setup may make these catch-ups trickier to implement than normal, they’re worth scheduling.
Look out for signs of struggle
When it comes to assessing how employees are coping, keep an eye out for changes in demeanour. Body language (if you’re still seeing staff in person) can be a reliable indicator of mood. So can the underlying tone of emails and phone calls, and the speed at which employees respond.
Changes in attitude towards work and changes in productivity can also be signs that something isn’t right.
Set up regular 1:1 meetings with staff you’re concerned about
If you’re getting a sense that someone in your team needs support, make sure you follow up, preferably in a private setting or on a 1:1 phone/video meeting where you can encourage them to speak openly about their feelings.
Provide support, both in and beyond the workplace
If one of your employees is struggling, be responsive. Where possible, approve requests for leave or consider arranging modified duties that will reduce the immediate pressure while enabling the staff member to stay connected to work.
If they need more structured support, connect them to your employee assistance program (if you have one) or to other high-quality mental health resources and services external to your organisation – it’s not your job to try and counsel them yourself but it is part of your role as manager to support them.
Whatever arrangements you end up making, don’t leave the conversation there – schedule the next follow-up session before ending your catch-up so you can continue checking in, even if your staff member is on leave.
Keep an eye on your own mental health
As a manager, it’s easy to get distracted by meeting the needs of those around you while forgetting about your own, but it’s important to take the time to check in with your own feelings and make sure you’re still on track. Maintain regular catch-ups with your own manager or a trusted colleague who has some insights into your professional situation, and be frank about the challenges you’re experiencing both at and beyond work.
Sharing your experiences with your team can also be beneficial – acknowledging the difficulties you are experiencing with this new arrangement can help staff feel more comfortable speaking to you about their difficulties early on and can also help you clarify your own feelings.
If you need extra support, use the channels available to you both in and beyond your workplace. Health Direct provides a list of 24/7 Mental Health Helplines.