One workplace study conducted by Qualtrics, in partnership with SAP and Mind Share Partners, found that 67 percent of employees are reporting higher levels of stress since the outbreak of Covid-19, as they adapt to a new living and working environment.
People advocates know they can help employees feel supported in the face of adversity while inspiring productivity and positivity in the workplace. Here are a few tips for inspiring mental stability (and security) in the workplace:
1. Provide resources.
In times like these, resources, playbooks, and guides are critical for navigating the waters of uncertainty. Provide teams with resources to help them be more productive and successful in their work. HR leaders and executives can create an intranet page on managing stress and anxiety, create a "survival guide" for parents with children at home, or ask employees to share their own best practices for remote work. Companies may also consider providing virtual yoga, exercise, or mindfulness classes to support employees' mental and physical health.
Some leaders are encouraging teams who are experiencing Zoom fatigue to shorten meetings when possible. Others are ensuring they're accounting for the physical resources their employees need. For example, Emily Couey, senior vice president of people at security company Illumio, says, "If it's possible to let employees take their chair, monitor, or even desk home from the office, set up a way to make that happen safely."
2. Promote communication.
The Qualtrics study also found that 14.2 percent of individuals are concerned about losing their job as the coronavirus outbreak continues. As business ebbs and flows along with the economy, 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 encourage managers to have honest, safe, and regular communications with their employees, especially the really tough conversations. That will require vulnerability on the managers' part. But the good news is, while everyone is working from kitchen tables with kids and dogs running around, employees and employers have a window into what makes them all human outside of the office.
3. Encourage connection.
HR leaders and executives need to remember that we're all struggling, learning, and adapting together. Couey recommends finding ways to encourage connection between your employees outside of day-to-day tasks. "Although a lot of us are in more meetings than before, we're missing the interaction we would have had in the break room. Real human connection can help keep the culture and passion alive, and passion works wonders in making teams productive," she says.
By providing employees with resources, communicating clearly and consistently, and encouraging connection between teams, employers can help people feel better equipped to deal with the uncertainty at hand and more supported in the work they're doing. At the end of the day, navigating the new normal together and supporting each other as we go through it is crucial.