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Uncertainty Breeds Anxiety

April 1, 2021

By Linda Olejniczak, courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

Think of one word to define the last year…uncertainty.  We all know what uncertainty brings on…anxiety.  Each week we do not know what will come next, and that is taking a toll on our workforce’s mental health. 

As we navigate various transitions over the coming months and years, organization leaders are likely to see employees struggle with anxiety, depression, burnout, trauma, and PTSD. What can HR and leadership do to support their employees as they face new stressors, safety concerns, and economic upheaval?

Support your Team with the Right Tools –That includes supporting mental health. Seek out resources for your employees and normalize mental health challenges.  Create ways for employees to find support and provide training when necessary.

Practice what you Preach – Don’t just forward the email on the upcoming Wellness Lunch and Learn…attend it.  Be a role model. Share your strategies for better health methods: walks, yoga, hobbies.

Create a Culture of Caring- Intentionally checking in with each of your direct reports on a regular basis is more critical than ever. Expect that your employee’s needs will continue to change. Check in regularly — particularly at transition points in your organization.

Adapt and Accommodate -Being accommodating does not necessarily mean lowering your standards. Flexibility can help your team thrive amid the continued uncertainty.

Communicate – If you have shared wellness resources once, share them again. And be aware that shame and stigma prevent many employees from using their mental health benefits to seek treatment, so normalize the use of those services.

Invest in Training – Organizations should prioritize workplace mental health training for leaders, managers, and individual contributors.

Modify policies and practices -To reduce stress, be as generous and flexible as possible in updating policies and practices. When you make changes, be explicit that you are doing so to support the mental health of your employees, if that is the goal.

Measure – Ensuring accountability does not have to be complicated; it can be handled in a simple pulse survey done regularly to understand how people are doing now and over time. This direct employee input can help shape new programs and increase engagement.

Take this opportunity to create the healthy workplace. Check out this article in Harvard Business Review on how to form a Mental Health Employee Resource Group.

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