Mental health in the pandemic is serious business, and not staying on top of it can seriously affect how your business performs.
A recent study found that 53 percent of American adults reported that their mental health had been negatively impacted due to worry and stress related to Covid-19, which is up from 32 percent reported in March.
Some of the negative impacts on people's mental health and well-being due to worry over Covid-19 include "difficulty sleeping (36 percent) or eating (32 percent), increases in alcohol consumption or substance use (12 percent), and worsening chronic conditions (12 percent)."
Employers are faced with the increasing responsibility of protecting their people's mental health, as well as their own, against those negative effects. While encouraging a flexible work environment to lessen the strain of stringent remote work expectations is a good start, much more needs to be done on behalf of workers.
1. Start by openly discussing mental health
"The most empathetic business leaders recognize the shared role they have in empowering employees to achieve a healthier mental state," said Alicia Tillman, Global CMO of SAP.
"At SAP, discussing mental health will never be a career-limiting conversation," Tillman says. "It is one of the biggest challenges employees face right now, and as leaders, we must create safe spaces where employees can speak comfortably about where they need help to overcome challenges they are dealing with."
To ensure SAP is helping employees navigate today's environment, the company provides a confidential hotline (via phone or email) at no cost for employees to discuss their mental health with a professional counselor.
2. Reduce digital overload with analog tools
Over-reliance on screens has taken a toll on productivity and mental wellness. The second annual Workplace Productivity Report from the Paper and Packaging Board found that three in four of the 2,000 workers surveyed are experiencing digital overload. Surprisingly, many workers are turning to tried-and-true tools like notebooks, sticky notes, or even a walk around the block to refocus --or simply get a much-needed screen break.
Using a notebook can help you get organized without the distraction of devices--and, in fact, 43 percent of respondents report using paper to prioritize tasks, and 40 percent draw flowcharts and graphics to organize their work.
Holland Haiis, Paper and Packaging's digital detox and productivity expert, says "analog tools also relax the mind, make space for problem-solving, and enable us to think about new ideas differently, whether writing or sketching them out."
3. Communicate clearly and transparently
With employees reporting higher levels of stress across the board and many concerned about losing their jobs, HR leaders and executives should make sure they're communicating clearly and transparently about potential layoffs, fluxes in revenue, and the overall health of the organization. Senior leaders should also model transparency and encourage their managers to have honest, safe, and regular communications with their employees, especially the really tough conversations.
4. Unplug from your job responsibilities
During the early stages of Covid-19, workers became so exhausted from the onslaught of Zoom meetings that "video fatigue" set in. One of the best ways to relieve stress from video fatigue and incorporate balance on a regular basis by doing something that is completely unrelated to your job. That means making it a regular habit to have more "me time" every day to help decompress from the pressures of remote work.
As busy entrepreneurs and leaders, it really comes down to forcing yourself to disconnect from your devices and physically remove yourself from your screens. In exchange, enjoy listening to your favorite '80s music, immerse yourself in a good read, play with the kids, or catch up with an old friend, preferably in person.