How to Lead a Workforce Through Pandemic Recovery
The pandemic has impacted companies across geographies and industries in different ways. While employees of essential business and front-line workers have been continuing work in physical settings, a lot of employees have been working from home. Since the beginning of the pandemic Canadians have been stressed, anxious, depressed, lonely, sad and even burnt out. While the circumstances of work changes across geographies and industries, recovering from the pandemic will be something everyone will need help with, especially businesses.
It is important to recognize that recovery will not be immediate and won’t look like everyone is back to 100%.Your employees will not be performing at 100% everyday either. Everyone in the workplace, including yourself, will need time to regroup during the period of recovery. This means that your business will need support systems in place and managers that aren't afraid of employees' needs post-pandemic. HR plays a key role in this as people leaders who provide the resources that employees need to cope with changes and to function as part of a larger organization.
So how can you make your workforce more resilient and support them through this process?
Tips on Creating a Resilient Workforce to Make the Recovery Process Smoother
- Give your employees increased access to mental health resources.
- Take away mental health stigma by protecting privacy, education and normalizing mental health challenges.
- Give your management tools to help provide the support your employees need to get back to work.
- Encourage executives to share their own personal challenges.
- Recognize burnouts. The WHO1 has classified burnouts as an occupational phenomenon “resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed”.
- Provide employees with a means to communicate their needs within the workplace.
- Take proactive strategies to provide transparency in communication.
- Take away uncertainty in aspects of the business you can control to provide more stability.
- Measure the results of your mental health efforts to provide accountability and proof to leadership on effectiveness.
Understanding the Employee Recovery Process Through Mental Health Support
Mental health professionals can have enormous impact on reducing symptoms related to mental health challenges and absenteeism in the workplace due to the pandemic. Employees experiencing emotional distress will benefit from early access to treatment.
It is important to set realistic expectations on the recovery process. Here we outline what your employees will face at every step of their mental health recovery journey with MindBeacon so you can help guide them through it, and even understand your own recovery journey better.
Step 1: Align Your Compass
After a year of so much uncertainty and many changed plans, your employees will be encouraged to set their compasses in the right direction and eliminate the detailed planning to help alleviate frustration. This means, they will set new goals but stay flexible in how they achieve them.
Step 2: Accept the Loss
Feeling down or stuck is natural when people experience various forms of loss. After all the loss your employees have experienced this year or heard about, they will grieve - which is a normal reaction to loss. Employees will be encouraged to accept the loss so they can move forward as they continue to lose moments, time and people in their lives.
Step 3: Educate Yourself
Most people have experienced higher levels of stress than ever before. Many of them do not understand whether the levels of stress they experience are normal. They also question if all stress is bad or whether they should learn to live with it. Your employees will be encouraged to educate themselves about various mental health topics including stress, burnout and anxiety which will help them approach their lives with a clear mind.
Step 4: Prioritize Self-Care
One of the most important elements of fostering positive mental health is truly taking care of oneself. Your employees putting themselves first will mean better mental health and improved mood. This will give them the capacity to handle everyday stressors with more ease and help them better take care of the ones around them.
Step 5: Re-Discover
With so many different plans and changes people need to make in their lives, it can be difficult to know what to focus on in the short and long term. Your employees will be encouraged to consider the pandemic as an opportunity to re-discover who they are and what values are true to them. They will be asked to re-visit their health, relationships, career, and leisure values for a chance to re-connect with themselves and discover who they want to be after the pandemic ends.
Step 6: Take Action
When people are feeling down, with no energy to make any changes in their lives or take action, the best thing for them to do is exactly this - take action. This is called ‘Behavioural Activation’ and it is about getting through psychological barriers to do what they need to do to improve their mental health. Your employees will be provided with the information they need to know to add this useful concept to their toolkits.
Step 7: Use Peer Support
Peer support is about getting past the stigma of reaching out for help when one is not at their best. A network of peers can be most valuable in helping employees get through tough times. Your employees will be encouraged to consider who they have in their life that can offer emotional, instrumental, informational and companionship support. They will also be encouraged to work together, lean on each other and not be ashamed to say they are not okay. Everyone struggles, and when people use therapy and friend support together, it is a lot easier for them to get through the journey.
Step 8: Commit to Maintenance
A self-improvement journey never ends. There will always be something new for people to learn, new tips and tricks to incorporate into their lives and fresh perspectives to see. MindBeacon’s Therapist Guided Programs and Live Therapy sessions are just one part of the overall solution. MindBeacon provides professional mental health support but the work people do in between their therapy to maintain their mental health is up to them.
Interested in knowing what our Therapist Guided Programs look like?
1 World Health Organization. (n.d.). Burn-out an "occupational phenomenon": International Classification of Diseases. World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/news/item/28-05-2019-burn-out-an-occupational-phenomenon-international-classification-of-diseases.