This has been a difficult year for everyone. Change, fear, and isolation are a terrible combination of emotions, and 2020 has been full of all three. We’re hearing a lot of questions and concerns about mental health and how to help employees whether they are visibly struggling or not. Here are 4 ways to improve the mental health of your team:
1. Talk to everyone regularly
When was the last time you spoke to each person on your team and asked them how they are? Asking someone how their work is going does not count! Taking the time to have a conversation that isn’t specifically work related is a step that is often missed by managers. If you can’t feasibly call every person in your company, ask your management team to have these check-in conversations with their team. Ask people how they are doing personally and what their headspace feels like. Opening the door to talking about things like this will make people feel more comfortable about speaking up if they are having a difficult time and it will make you more aware of who needs more support.
2. Monitor engagement
You’re probably already having Zoom meetings and virtual conversations, but make sure to use these not just for business, but also for evaluating the level of engagement from people on your team. Digital meetings are a great way to see who seems engaged and energetic and who seems disconnected and distant. Look at body language, tendency to engage in and contribute to discussions, eagerness to take ownership of tasks, and also look at facial expressions when someone is speaking or being spoken to. These will all provide indications of how connected and mentally strong people are feeling.
3. Encourage time off
One of the biggest initial concerns we heard from managers was the fear that by allowing remote work privileges, productivity would take a hit and people would slack off at home. However, research and our own experience has shown that the exact opposite tends to be true. It can be much harder to separate work and home life when you work remotely, and it’s normal to have a harder time unplugging and switching off your “work brain.” This takes a toll after a while, so encouraging people to use their PTO is important even if it’s just to take a personal day and re-charge. Taking a few days off can really help combat burnout and put someone in a better headspace.
4. Offer bonding opportunities
We’ve often written about the importance of having a strong manager/employee relationship and about the value of having friendships at work. These affect critical things like turnover, resiliency, and overall happiness among your employees. Get creative with teambuilding opportunities that can be done remotely and find ways to encourage bonding between employees over non-work related items. Maybe it’s an at-home scavenger hunt, a surprise lunch delivery (Grub-Hub, Uber Eats, etc.), or even a game of trivia. Think of something fun that will give people the opportunity to connect with each other without the pressure of talking about work projects. The goal is to build a team that feels compassion for each other and to encourages people to get to know one another on a more personal level.
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