Leading during a global crisis: return to work
Updated: Jul 29
This post is an excerpt from an article originally published in Human Resources Director magazine.
The June 2020 Morneau Shepell Mental Health Index showed a correlation between the level of mental health support an employer provides and an employee’s mental wellbeing, so it’s important for employers to recognize the important role they can play in supporting their employees during this time.
What can employers do to safeguard employee mental wellbeing on the return to work?
Practice clear and regular communication. Keep your employees as informed as possible about new and upcoming changes and be honest about things you don’t know yet. When people are informed about what to expect and confident that you are addressing the situation, they are better able to cope.
Acknowledge that fear, anxiety and the wide range of emotions that employees may be experiencing are normal during this time. Make sure all employees feel included and as connected as possible, whether working on site or virtually. You can leverage existing health and safety groups or wellness committees to put specific attention on staying connected with other employees virtually.
Recognize that it’s not ‘business as usual’ and work with your employees to help them meet the needs of their job with their other commitments with home and family. Checking with your employees to understand their specific needs will provide them with some level of control, which is important during a time when so much is out of our control!
Be proactive. Remind employees about existing supports and resources and implement new ones to promote positive coping and build resilience. Mindfulness training is a cost-effective solution that can be implemented with little effort that is effective across an organization from the front lines to executives.
Encourage managers and those in leadership roles to model positive coping behaviours. Help ensure they are keeping boundaries between work and home life, even when working from home and taking time off when needed. This will ensure managers maintain their own mental wellbeing as well as show their teams the importance of rest and regular time off.
Don’t forget about acknowledgement and recognition during this time! Adapting to a new work situation can be difficult for many people. Thanking your employees for their efforts will go a long way. Keep in mind you may need to find new ways to provide recognition as work dynamics change and more teams embrace remote work.
Want more tips on leading during a crisis? Read more!