• Katherine Torres, CEO

COVID-19: The importance of your staff’s mental health

The change that the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 has produced in our lives is indisputable. Not only has changed the way we socially relate, but it has also had a dramatic impact on the economy, affecting the activity of thousands of companies, which has imminently affected the work of millions of Americans: according to the International Labor Organization (ILO), full and partial lockdowns have affected four in five workers, for a total of almost 2.7 billion workers in US. One thing that must be understood is that the economy was facing a temporary halt of activity due to health restrictions, which inevitably leads to a solvency problem for many companies, firms, and individuals, especially on US minority-owned small businesses.

Even in this scenario, many sectors of the economy have continued their activities, requiring that many companies have to adapt to forms of work that had not been visualized or that had not been considered before, such is the case of working remotely or online; in fact the scenario of social estrangement has forced millions of Americans to work from home, noting even an acceleration in the use of freelancers as a result of Covid-19.

But there are some considerations regarding the repercussions of social distancing due to Covid-19. People are facing different problems as a result of isolation and lack of activities, many times producing lack of motivation and optimism, anxiety, stress, or even generating indifference to many aspects of their own life, including their jobs. Working remotely is not easy, much less under current conditions, and managers must be aware of this, which also applies to them, on whose shoulders rests in many cases the responsibility of all the productivity of the company.

That’s why it is very important to find new ways to work and interact while also taking care of the mental health and well-being of your staff. First of all, it is needed to understand that social distancing does not mean social isolation, even a phone call can change the perspective of a person if we really pay attention and cares about them. Loneliness is one of the majority problems that people is facing during this pandemic, and it has profound consequences for health, productivity in the workplace, and even how kids do in school.

This point leads us to emphasize that is crucial to maintain a regular and clear communication with your people. Maintain the consistency and empathy of your messages and address the priorities and efforts the company is making to support them. Be transparent and clear when communicating the changes and events that arise, this helps to reduce uncertainty and remain active in the reality of the company.

Try to touch on other topics beyond work. Taking an interest in and learning about the personal and family lives of your employees helps create an atmosphere of openness and sincerity and show a sincere care about people. The support you provide to your employees will be the best of the barometers of the company culture and their own experience in it. Remember to focus on what the employee is saying, giving them your full attention.

Try to promote taking care of yourself in your employees, showing different ways how to do it, not only of COVID-19 but also with respect to their personal and family lives in general. Some companies have been known to introduce personal care time for their employees into their work calendars, allowing people to take time to take mental health breaks, whether it be walking, playing with their children, cooking, or even watching television. A rested mind is much more productive than a stressed mind, and this is essential to ensure that people become more productive in all aspects of their lives. Emphasizes how important mental health is; being empathetic or sharing your own experiences can help you to understand these ideas much easier.

Be present. You need to be available and responsive to digital chats and text messages from employees. This will require a high degree of commitment and the use of tools that you may not have been familiar with before, which could also help you learn which tool best suits your needs. The same will apply to your employees, but learning could help you provide your people with a sense of belonging and keep them connected to your company and co-workers.

Allow flexibility. With homes also serving as offices and with children and pets around, some employees may have to alter their schedules to manage multiple demands. Increasing flexibility is a great way to allow employees to feel more supported in their health and help them too to better manage the stress.

Of course, not everything falls to one side of the picture, it is also necessary for the employee to assume responsibilities with respect to himself/herself, and many times this will depend on the discipline that he can impose on himself to achieve not fall in the day a day. Some recommendations are:

  • Create and maintain a routine and schedule.

  • Stay connected with family, friends, and support systems using technology. Talk about your fears and concerns with people you trust.

  • Keep your immune system strong: Washing your hands with soap for 20 seconds, getting enough sleep, eating well and staying hydrated, taking vitamins.

  • Prioritize personal hygiene and limit contact with others: This is imperative to avoid spreading the virus.

  • Exercise and stay active: This is not only good for your physical health, but also your mental health.

  • Get fresh air: If circumstances allow, go outside for a brisk walk and fresh air, but avoid crowds and try to maintain the distance with others.

  • Stay informed: Knowledge is power, and it's good to stay updated on progress being made in combatting the virus.

  • Set boundaries on work schedule.

  • Distract and redirect: Engage in activities that benefit your well-being, bring you joy and distract you from existing challenges.

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