The coronavirus outbreak has precipitated an unprecedented time of change and uncertainty all over the world. New infections are being reported on a daily basis, coronavirus deaths continue to be announced, and people are losing their jobs every day.
It is only normal for people to experience high levels of anxiety during this pandemic. If it is not the fear of losing a job, it is the fear of becoming infected. If it is not the rising cases of depression as a result of being stuck indoors for ages, it is the increasing reports of domestic violence. Everyone is losing in some way or form.
In the light of these misfortunes, as a business leader, how do you support your staff to deal with coronavirus anxiety, noting that you too are vulnerable to anxiety? Here are 5 tips for you:
1. Make reasonable adjustments
Start by allowing employees that can work remotely to do exactly that. That is because some employees are panicking because they don’t know if they will catch the virus on their way to the workplace, or from their colleagues at work.
Secondly, for those who have to deal directly with customers, e.g. your delivery guys, salespersons, and store managers, adjust their working conditions to ensure that they are safe; that they feel they are safe. Provide them with PPEs and ensure that all safety guidelines issued by your local authorities are adhered to by everyone stepping into your office premise.
2. Stay in touch with them
Keep in regular and authentic contact with your remote employees, be it via Zoom, WhatsApp, phone calls, or email. In every communication, ensure that you give them an honest assessment of how things stand within the company and in the industry as a whole.
Update them as new information or guidance emerges because this is not a good time to keep information from your staff. If they suspect that you are not honest with you, some of them might interpret that to mean you are pushing them away from the company, probably with the intention to fire them in the end. That only piles onto their anxiety.
Anxiety also stems from isolation. Humans are social beings, after all. In that regard, try and replicate daily interactions with co-workers by hosting regular videoconferences, or creating a WhatsApp group where colleagues can chat without being intimidated by their bosses.
Encourage virtual coffees and lunches. Hold virtual happy hours. Celebrate birthdays and anniversaries virtually. Don’t assume that your employees will do it without your coordination. At a time like this, when anxiety is running high, they might not even be sure of what they need or what works/doesn’t work anymore.
3. Support them through employee assistance programs
If you haven’t set up an employee assistance program for your staff, maybe this is the time to set one up. Just set aside a small budget to cater for employee wellbeing and counseling services in case the need arises.
You might not spend this money if none of your employees ends up needing confidential counseling but, especially if some of your employees are within the vulnerable groups, you cannot afford to gamble with their mental or physical health.
Employee Well-Being: Here’s How Managers Can Play A RoleA lot of businesses concentrate on profits as a measure of success, but employee motivation is also major indicator in how well your company is doing. In this article Evie Harrison looks at 5 ways you, as a manager, can improve emplyee motivation and increase profits and productivity.
4. Outsource staffing needs to a PEO
Outsource your staffing needs to a global PEO because, regardless of the challenges your company is currently facing, your employees will always be certain that their needs will be taken care of by the PEO.
Professional employment organizations will also offer you compliant and agile workforce solutions to keep your business afloat during this pandemic. When you have the right people in the right place, your chances of survival increase which, consequently, gives employees the hope that they will still have a job post-COVID. That lowers their anxiety.
5. Provide them with stress management resources
Many people manage their stresses in fitness centers. The pandemic has forced all gyms and social gatherings to be banned. These days, people have turned to apps and websites as a temporary substitution to fitness centers. Some are free, but if you want to really help your employees, the best thing to do is pay for their premium resources.
You can, for example, pay for their online mindfulness or yoga classes. If you have the budget, you can buy stationary bikes for them and other at-home workout equipment.
In every measure you take, always remember that some employees are more affected than others. Reach out to those employees more often and invest more in their mental health. Some of them include single parents, workers with compromised immunity, and minimum wage earners.
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