As humans, we can handle change but we don’t do well with uncertainty. Given the enormous amount of uncertainty we are facing at the moment it is understandable that anxiety levels of many are rising. According to a global study by Qualtrics and SAP during March and April 2020, since the outbreak of the pandemic, 75% of people say they feel more socially isolated, 67% of people report higher stress, 57% are feeling greater anxiety, and 53% say they feel more emotionally exhausted. These statistics while alarming are certainly not surprising.
Experts have warned us that there is an impending second pandemic that we will be and are now facing in the workplace and that is a Mental Health crisis. As the statistics show, people are struggling with the cognitive load this pandemic has created. Mental Health now needs to be a genuine top priority for leaders.
Here are three tips for leaders that will make a difference for your employees if done consistently:
Understandably leaders have been scrambling to keep their business viable, and a focus has certainly been on the bottom line and business development and retention. This is the commercial reality of business. What we need to be cognisant of is that this can also create a perception that leaders are very ‘busy’. They can appear to be distracted and unavailable causing their team to be reluctant to reach out. A simple change in communication can solve this problem by constantly reassuring your team that your door, whether that be physical or virtual, is open and that you encourage people to contact you. Also by you reaching out to have a non-work related conversation with your team and simply asking how they are or if they are ok. This needs to be genuine and not just done as a ‘tick-a-box’ process. People have some strong BS detectors and that could make the situation worse. And yes, you do have the time for this. Why? Your team is the power in your business; you can’t afford not to support them.
Close down your emails and limit any distractions whilst speaking with your team and really listen to what is being said, what is not being said and how it’s being said. There is so much you can pick up in from non-verbal communication. Take notice of body language and tone, ask questions and don’t overlay your assumptions across what people are feeling. Be curious and empathetic. Your team is craving genuine connection now; give them that by being fully present.
Support Your Metal Health
This situation is impacting leaders equally as it impacts their team. Leaders also have the added pressure of supporting others, steadying the ship whilst trying to navigate some turbulent waters. Leaders also need to fill their own cup and ensure they are supporting their own mental health. Speak opening with those you trust in your circle of influence; be honest and vulnerable with your team about how you are feeling, allow others to support you. You don’t have to be superman or woman and wear the cape of strength all the time. You are human too.
As Mark LeBusque, The Human Manager says; “we are humans first and crave psychological safety through deep connection and a strong sense of belonging. Once we feel this the magic of creating high performance and amazing business results can occur.” Treating your team as humans and understanding that they will all be in different places, that you may need to be flexible with your expectations and that you need to prioritise very differently than you did prior to this pandemic will serve you well and make a huge difference to your outcomes and how your team are feeling.