Research shows that almost 42% of respondents have had their mental health deteriorate since the beginning of the pandemic. Prior to the pandemic, many companies focused on mental health in the workplace, and these efforts are even more important today. The pandemic is still present, you are still the manager.

What is the most important thing you need and have to do as a manager and leader?

Even in the most uncertain times, the role of the manager remains the same: to support the members of his/her team. This includes, in particular, taking into account the mental health of employees.

When managers describe their challenges to their team members, and not only the ones connected to mental health, they seem to look more human, compassionate and brave. This is what can connect you with your employees and create the feeling that you are there to support each other. Experiences related to mental health will vary depending on ethnicity, economic opportunity, citizenship, type of work, parental responsibilities and care, and many other variable items.

So, what can managers and leaders do to support employees as they face new stressors, security concerns, and economic upheavals?

Here are some tips from us.

Be vulnerable

  • When you as a leader are honest about personal struggles and mental health challenges, you open the door for employees to feel comfortable talking to you about their health problems. In all honesty, almost all of us have experienced a certain level of discomfort regarding the ongoing situation.

Let healthy behaviours and habits become a model

  • It is not enough to just say that you support mental health. Do this so that your team members feel they can prioritize their own care. Very often, managers become so focused on the well-being of their team and on doing their job, that they forget to take care of themselves. Speak to your team members about how you walk during the day, have therapy scheduled, or rest at home (and turn off emails) to avoid premature burnout.

Offer flexibility and be inclusive

  • Accept that situations, employee needs, and your personal needs will continue to change. Ask team members to be patient and understand each other as they adjust. Trust them, assume and expect the best of them. They rely on you as their leader and will surely remember how they were treated by you  in this unique time.

Communicate more than you think you should

  • Be sure to keep your team informed of any organisational changes or updates. Explain anything they may need to know or might find vague. Eliminate stress whenever possible, by setting expectations regarding work tasks, prioritising what needs to be done, and recognising what can wait on the sidelines if necessary.

Modify procedures and common practices

  • To reduce stress for everyone, be as generous and as flexible as possible in updating procedures and practices during uncertain times. When making those changes, be explicit to do so in support of the mental health of your employees and let that be your only goal.

Invest in professional development

  • As more employees struggle with mental health issues, it is important to unravel common myths, reduce stigma, and build the necessary skills for productive mental health conversations at work. If you don’t have the budget to invest in training, there are always staff  or work groups available, that understand the issues around mental health and they are an inexpensive way to raise awareness, build a sense of community, and support colleagues.

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