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Supporting the mental and emotional health of employees during a crisis

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Supporting the mental and emotional health of employees during a crisis is a top priority for your company, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are examples of organizational efforts that address the emotional, mental and physical health of employees.

Our workplaces have dramatically shifted.. Employees with jobs that can be done remotely are now working from home, and people on the front lines of healthcare and our economy are carrying the weight of supporting us all. 

As teams are beginning to navigate their new normal, we’re starting to see organizations take the safety and well-being of their people a step further. While the physical safety of employees was key in the first wave of change, there are now efforts to help employees’ manage their emotional and mental health during a time when stress and anxiety is naturally heightened. 

Right now, organizations are uniquely supporting the mental and emotional health of employees during a crisis, and impacting the well-being of their teams. Here are a few ways companies are doing right by their people.

Listening to their people

Vodafone New Zealand’s CEO, Jason Paris, publicly shared the organization’s daily well-being check-in that gets sent to its employees. It’s four simple questions but a reminder that the company cares about the well-being and state of mind of its people (and their families). Paris says that anyone who isn’t feeling great receives mental health resources from Vodafone New Zealand to help. Before rushing to provide a solution, they’re listening to how their people are feeling first. 

Providing another layer of security

In a move that signals an acknowledgement of the uncertainty employees may be feeling right now, Facebook announced a bonus of $1,000 to all employees, along with giving almost all its 45,000 employees “exceeds” ratings for the first half of 2020, which will result in nice sized bonuses during six-month reviews. Many other companies are giving one-time bonuses to frontline workers at grocery stores, banks, and warehouses for similar reasons. Knowing a financial buffer is coming can alleviate a little bit of stress during times of uncertainty.

Expanding efforts that already exist 

Workday announced its employee relief initiatives and benefits initiatives which include a one-time payment, equal to two weeks pay, to be used at the discretion of each employee to help with unforeseen costs that may arise. They also built on existing efforts to expand benefits from 10 to 15 days to help source and pay for back-up childcare providers. Workday is also providing a free one-year subscription to the Headspace app for access to meditations and mindfulness programs to help relieve stress and anxiety.

Building virtual connections

As new remote teams adjust to life via video chats, organizations are getting creative to maintain connections across teams. Virtual coffee chats and happy hours help sustain relationships, but some teams are finding ways to connect and focus on their well-being. The Cisco Norway team had a mid-day yoga session with employees (and anyone else in their households at home with them) to take a break and help boost productivity for the rest of the day.

Collaborating for an even greater impact

Our healthcare workers are being asked to go above and beyond in so many ways right now. Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health has partnered with Thrive Global and the CAA Foundation to create #FirstRespondersFirst. The initiative provides content to help improve the physical and mental well-being of healthcare workers on the front lines fighting COVID-19.

Currently being rolled out to healthcare workers in Massachusetts, the program aims to provide microsteps that focus on sleep, movement, nutrition, stress management, and relationships with colleagues. As the program says, “we have to stand for your health because you stand for ours.” Knowing that health systems have really pressing issues to deal with, it’s amazing to see outside organizations stepping up to provide much needed emotional, mental, and physical support for those helping us the most. 

Even if you are a smaller company, there are things you can be doing to focus on employee wellness and health at your company. Here are some tips to get you started.

Employees are going to remember how they were supported professionally and personally during this crisis. You have the opportunity to enrich your culture by the actions your organization takes to put people first. Employees are looking to their organizations and its leaders to understand how to operate and thrive at work during a crisis. The more you model and support healthy well-being habits, the better off your employees, and your organization as a whole, will be. 

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