Companies have an unprecedented amount of responsibility for managing mental health of employees at present time.
This requires leaders to engage their empathy muscle and coaching skills like never before.
❓What can leaders do AND what support they may need❓
Why is mental health important now?
📎 A survey by the National Center for Health Statistics found that 41% of Americans showed some symptoms of anxiety or depression in January, up from 34% in May.
📎 Another study showed that a whopping 88% of Americans reported depression symptoms over the past 6 months.
📎Social stigma is still strong with 47% of respondents thinking that seeking help for mental health is a sign of weakness.
📎 A recent report from Deloitte showed that 90% of CEOs view the mental health of employees as a priority.
What can you do as a leader?
1. Understand that what we are experiencing is not a sign of weakness or lack of capacity, it is a normal phenomenon that needs to be managed as part of business (and communicate this to your employees not only by your words but also actions).
The phenomenon of hitting a pandemic wall is now widely discussed.
- The pandemic has over-activated our stress-response system.
- We’ve been at this for a year now, and our fight-or-flight system ― the emotional reaction to stress that has been otherwise energizing us throughout the pandemic ― is totally overloaded.
- Emotional endurance dwindles over time, and given the nature of the pandemic, we don’t have the same sense of security we could fall back on during pre-pandemic times. Those traditional outlets — the gym, a vacation, going out with friends, visiting family — aren’t necessarily options right now.
"Even the little things that might not have bothered us before can get to us", explained Amy Cirbus, a licensed mental health counselor in a Washington post article.
"Hitting a wall" is a well-known phenomenon in marathon running. Many runners hit the wall around the 18 or 20-mile mark because of simple physiological math. It is predictable — as are the rewards for powering through to the other side.
With the pandemic wall, the issue is that we don't know whether we are on mile 20 or 12? None of the anticipated “milestones” (new year, vaccine) have brought the desired relief and February feels like the 14th month of 2020.
Uncertainty plays a huge role in hitting this wall. In the meantime...
2. Provide a meaningful support to employees
In other words, don't shift it to HR.
I'm sure the HR is working hard (and they maybe quitely burning out, too) and your company may be offering a variety or classes and courses. And it would not be nearly as meaningful to give your employees the list or point to a place on the website, as it would to have an individualized approach.
Many people feel that the past year has been lost time, but it can also be used for growth, exploration, and professional/personal development. To really do this, it will require you to have conversations with employees, really listen and be fleixible.
This asks for even more effort and coaching from the leaders, but it is worth it because in return you get loyalty, engagement, and an employees who are performing at their best.
3. Support leaders
Helping employees manage through the pandemic wall will require leaders and managers to strengthen their empathy muscles, as well as crank up their coaching skills.
And the leaders...
- still need to meet business goals, manage risk, and generate revenue.
- may not be trained in using empathy and coaching skills specifically.
- could have hit the pandemic wall themselves.
Where do you find the time and energy to coach your employees, show empathy AND manage the business side?!
Here is one ready-to-go solution that you may like...
Positive Intelligence, a science-based method developed by Shirzad Chamine, allows you to deal with burnout and hitting the pandemic wall without directly getting into the sensitive topic of mental health.
The program can either be used to support and train people's managers (or HR folks) to help them effectively support employees, or provide it directly to employees, and augment manager's effort and free up their time.
You can find more information about it here or reach out to me. As a partner of Positive Intelligence, I am offering access to the program and facilitate groups for employees and individuals.
I have personally experienced and seen the impact with clients and believe that the program could not be more timely. I will be happy to answer your questions.
Sveta Parilova enjoys helping companies to build an inclusive and supporting environment that keeps employees engaged, helps them perform at their best, unlock their leadership potentials, and thrive.
As a leadership coach and consultant, she is especially passionate about supporting conscious leaders, high performers, and women who want to feel confident and impactful at work while feeling whole and enjoying relationships and personal life.
Click here to schedule a Complimentary Strategy Session and learn more!