Business owners are dealing with the changing market conditions and are scrambling to simply keep their business afloat. It can be hard to stay connected with employees as they reallocate, re-purpose and redirect business activities to adjust to this new normal. Even the best business leaders may lose sight of what the added stress of the current crisis is doing to their employees and staff. With many companies pivoting to remote work, employees are further isolated increasing the negative affects of the stress they are experiences.
Businesses should keep themselves informed and share information with their teams regularly. The CDC (Center for Disease Control) sends out information regularly for citizens to stay physically healthy during the COVID 19 Global Pandemic. It also has some commonsense tips and resources to ensure people stay in a positive and healthy mindset during the isolation and stress filled days during the crisis. People handle stress differently and how you respond is based on your own experiences. Children, older citizens, first-responders and those with underlying mental health issues may find it harder to fight off the anxiety, depression or stress caused by this unusual time.
Stress can manifest in many ways. Those feeling additional stress may have trouble sleeping, see changes in eating patterns, find chronic conditions worsen and some may increase in the use of tobacco, alcohol and other drugs to help them cope. All of these symptoms can lead to even more issues. Minimizing the negative effects of stress is critical for all.
Business owners can do the following to ensure their teams and staff members are maintain a healthy state of mind and continue to operate effectively. They can encourage their teams to;
- Take breaks and recharge and encourage that from time to time, they disconnect from news of the pandemic as it can be overwhelming and debilitating;
- Encourage that employees keep healthy routines in their lives including exercise, getting enough sleep, meditate, eat well balanced meals and avoid drugs or alcohol
- Consider offering PTO (Paid time off) for those employees who are having a harder time coping
- Offering employee support programs through their health plans can provide resources to help keep them physically and mentally healthy.
Making sure that employees have healthy outlets to manage stress is not only practical, it can ensure that the business can come out of the crisis ready to return to regular business activities as the crisis subsides. Encourage that employees take time to connect with friends and family. Even virtually touching base with love ones regularly will keep people upbeat and cared for. Encourage leisure activities; reading, art, music, puzzles and games to keep the brain engaged.
Leaders and business owners need to do some fundamental activities and demonstrate some key behaviors to ensure their employees are supported and feel less stress.“Think like a reporter and provide constituents the who-what-when-where-why, so they don’t fill in the blanks themselves with rumors” (Graziano, 2020).
Additionally, business leaders need to be;
- Be Visible & Vocal
- Be Transparent & Candid
- Be Confident
- Be Real, Empathize
- Be Flexible; Set Clear Expectations
- Give up Some Control to Maximize Morale
- Focus your Messaging on how to ‘Thrive’
- Challenge your Team to be Solution- Based and instill a “Yes we can” attitude
Keep in mind the employees leave companies for many reasons, but in a recent article from Forbes.com they identified three statistics that are startling. While employees now may not be so quick to leave a job, consider what they might do when the crisis is over and they have more alternatives.
- 1 in 3 employees have left a job because they didn’t feel their employer cared about them as a person
- 25% left a job because they weren’t treated with dignity by company leaders
- 1 in 5 left a job because their employer didn’t support their well-being
You want to position your company as a caring and compassionate employer in crisis and non-crisis times. Take proactive steps to help your employees ease the stress of uncertainty.
Additional Employee Resources:
Contact the Disaster Distress Helpline
Contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline
Call 1-800-799-7233 and TTY 1-800-787-3224