For many of us, it took a pandemic to realize that satisfaction with work isn’t far separated from our personal life. We thought the predictability of a workday could at least help us cope with the uncertainty all around us. But, we have reached our tipping point somewhere. Nonprofit KFF reported in the second half of 2020 how adults are suffering adverse effects, including difficulty sleeping and substance abuse, to their mental health issues.
Teams can remain cohesive if their members are physically and mentally on board the organization’s goals, but recent unprecedented challenges are enough to disrupt such a balance. And so, more emphasis can only be placed on employees’ welfare. Only then can an organization say it did work on keeping its people satisfied.
How Leaders Can Intervene
Many would agree that going through the pandemic is both a physical and mental fight, but more so the latter. Stress levels vary for everyone, but no one is left at least mentally unscathed having to battle almost two years of a pandemic no one knows the end of, and neither its lasting impact in every aspect of human life. More than ever, companies need to pay particular attention to employee stress and devise strategies to mitigate this.
Stress, just like any other human emotion, is multi-faceted. Analyzing its root and, in turn, effectively alleviating it would not be a walk in the park for the employer. It takes leaders who, although they have mental struggles themselves, are up for the challenge of honing themselves into somewhat an emotional crutch for their team members and dealing with them with no judgment.
Almost always, they are at the core of developing a healthy emotional culture in the workplace. They set the example of being empathetic to one another’s emotions. They also exhibit how being a good listener, rather than being judgmental, encourages people to speak up instead of bottling up their feelings only to lead to their breakdown and, consequently, loss of productivity. More importantly, they know when and how to elevate an employee’s case if it gets out of hand.
Leaders blaze the trail toward a healthy culture of emotional support in the workplace. To keep the flame, on the other hand, is a shared responsibility of the people down the lines. The workplace isn’t necessarily an ideal environment for a person to open up about their complex emotions.
But making them feel comfortable enough that their colleagues will not judge them or put them in a bad light if they are feeling under the weather and so will have to take time off due to mental reasons is a good starting point. Supervisors shouldn’t take mental struggles against an employee’s job performance. In this time wherein an invisible health risk is threatening employees’ physical safety, the employer can at least work on making a safe mental space for them.
Moreover, it is the role of the company’s HR to accommodate the mental health concerns of employees by approving counseling services and providing avenues for stress relief in the form of workplace perks. This practice of showing up is more than just allowing employees to independently avail of their benefits and constantly checking on them through employee engagement surveys.
Coping with stress varies from person to person. That means some of your employees are not capable of properly processing their negative emotions to the point of self-destructive behavior. The employer can help by initially acting as a facilitator in dissecting the employee’s feelings.
This should be done in several sessions so that the employee acknowledges the presence of other people they can confide in. Over time, they will develop a habit of sharing how they feel and seek advice on how they can manage them. Eventually, they can take charge of their emotions. Rather than seeing those emotions as blockades to their success, they can then view these as instrumental to achieving their goals.
Revamp the Workplace
One’s surroundings are still a huge determinant of his mood and working routinely in the same setting can exhaust any employee. For this, the company can work around revamping the office to make it more pleasurable to work in. If the employee is working from home, offer them work tools they might not have yet, if not a stress-relieving toy, a small figurine, or organizer to spruce up his space. The employees will also feel more comfortable if the company provides them with an employee self-service portal. They can use it to freely access HR documents without requiring permission or time from the HR department personnel.
Employee welfare is integral to the continuity of any business. Investing in emotional support mechanisms for employees takes time to bear fruit, but it pays off.