Think back to the time before the pandemic. Think of how your employees interacted, how they looked when they came in to work for the day. What was the overall demeanor of your employee group?
Contrast that with how they’re doing now. Are there fewer friendly conversations happening? Do they seem more tired, more stressed, more sensitive? Are more people calling out sick or taking mental health days?
The bottom line is that burnout is becoming its own kind of pandemic — employees are stressed, overwhelmed, feeling overworked and tired and they don’t always know what to do about it or how to identify it.
The mental health and well-being of your employees should be critically important to you, as a manager and a leader.
Here’s why employee mental health matters and how you can help improve it.
Start a conversation about it.
People will argue, but talking about mental health is still stigmatized. There’s an awkwardness to admitting that things aren’t right, that you don’t feel like yourself but you’re not sure how to fix it. So start talking about it and show your employees that it’s ok — and important — to do so. Acknowledge bad days or bad moods. Understand that we all have them, that it’s perfectly normal to feel a little off sometimes. Or to be tired — we’re all tired from time to time, no matter how much sleep we get. We all need more rest right now. Talking about these things, whether it’s verbally or in emails or an employee newsletter, and talking about how it’s important to get this out into the open because all of us feel this way sometimes, will help your employees feel seen, heard and understood. It helps take away the stigma.
Change your company culture.
Some of the factors contributing to your employees’ level of stress might be longstanding practices or policies that have just become too much. If overtime has been mandatory, try to make it optional. Or try to set up a system where people can opt-in while you also provide advanced notice that overtime might be available in order to meet a particular demand. Unexpected overtime is disruptive to people’s lives outside of work and that needs to matter to you. Additionally, work to promote any employee assistance programs that are available through your company: counseling, health services, yoga classes, gym memberships — anything that might help your employees improve their overall well-being.
Try to provide more assistance.
Maybe you don’t have the funding to hire more employees right now but you know the workloads are adding up. Maybe it’s just a busy time that will only last temporarily. Consider adding temporary staff to help take some of the stress off your team. Temporary workers come in for a short period of time — days, weeks, months, whatever you think you’ll need — and then go off to other jobs. You can hire as many as you need for as long as you need and the relief they provide your permanent employees can be remarkable. If that’s not an option, consider looking at your employee workloads and seeing whether things can be reprioritized or if tasks can be reassigned to even the demand on each employee.
Focus on work-life balance.
If you can be flexible, let employees know they can adjust their working hours to address their needs at home. If they have young children that need to go off to camp or school, offer the flexibility of working at home to start the day and coming in after the kids are dropped off. Expand your work-from-home options if you have them and if your company can support that. Make it possible to flex hours, coming in earlier and leaving earlier, or coming in later and staying later, to address family priorities. Be supportive of these requests and make the options known to everyone — workers who feel supportive and able to focus on work while at work and their families while at home are less likely to feel stressed and frustrated about having to choose between the two.
Remind them about PTO.
People need breaks. They need to be able to go get coffee or water during the day, to step away from their desks to clear their heads and maybe get some fresh air. They also need to be able to take a few days off, or a week, or two, without feeling guilty about leaving their colleagues short-staffed. If your company offers paid time off, remind your employees that they are eligible to use this, and they should. When someone takes time off, don’t call them or email them unless it’s an absolute emergency — respect their time the way you’d want them to respect yours. You deserve time off too.
Need temporary or full-time employees? Sterling Personnel can help — quickly!
We’re all readjusting to the world today because it’s very different from what it was two years ago. We all need a little grace, a little patience and the ability to get help without scorn or criticism. Lead by example, talk about your own mental health struggles or challenges, and encourage your employees to take care of themselves. You’ll all benefit.
If you’re looking to add to your team, Sterling Personnel can help you find great, talented employees in a snap! We have fantastic candidates who are eager to get to work right away, for full-time or temporary positions. Call Sterling Personnel today and let’s work together.