Gallup recently met with 200+ Chief Human Resource Officers (CHROs) to glean their thoughts regarding employee well-being during the pandemic. The need for employee well-being and mental health initiatives was quite apparent, in fact the imperative for both:
“We are surely entering a new era in which corporate wellbeing and mental health support are no longer perks or status symbols. They are simply the requirements for doing business.”
Here are 4 cornerstones identified by the CHROs and other experts that can be a model for all organizations to consider for addressing well-being in 2021.
- Expand and Promote Employee Assistance Program Resources
Most of the worldwide organizations had EAPs as do many other businesses. However, the CRHOs have strengthened and promoted their programs.
- Explore services and different model options
- Increase legal and other types of services
- Increasing the number of counseling or therapy sessions
- Add Telehealth EAP sessions, virtual training, and remote support
- Communicate the benefits more often and encourage usage
2. Develop Manager Soft Skills
Research has consistently demonstrated the impact managers have on employee health, well-being, and engagement. Despite this knowledge, managers often aren’t provided the tools to develop the necessary skills. Managers have often been promoted through the ranks and taught ‘technical managing’ skills, but not the more essential soft skills. Yet these skills have always been absolutely vital to employee well-being, fulfillment, and engagement.
2020 brought to light the interconnection of work-life and personal life, as well as the importance and interconnection of physical, emotional, social, and psychological well-being. Work impacts well-being AND well-being impacts work. This was always true but now there is no denying it. Employees want to know that they are cared about as people.
- Provide skill development and practice for managers to learn soft skills such as empathy, compassion, listening, and difficult conversation
- Add personal check-ins to meetings including remote meetings
- Take well-being pulses regularly
3. Demonstrate Vulnerability
COVID-19 has affected everyone albeit differently.
– Working mom’s juggling childcare and remote schooling for kids
– Essential Workers providing necessary services
– Frontline Workers risking health and life to care for the sick and dying
– Social isolation, loss of close and loose contacts, and those in abusive
situations with limited escape
– Loss of employment and healthcare benefits
– Financial stress
– Pivoting – constantly!
Regardless of differences, we all understand the difficulties we and others are experiencing.
- Acknowledge and share candid stories of leader struggles and vulnerability
- Recognize and accept that personal lives are crashing with professional life
- Invite conversations around struggles and issues
- Establish support initiatives
4. Foster Hope, Love, Optimism and Gratitude
In a recent interview, Nicholas Christakis, physician and professor of social and natural science at Yale University, predicted that the coronavirus pandemic will continue to affect our lives through 2021 and beyond, with repercussions lasting through the end of 2023 or early 2024 – the ‘post-pandemic period’.
Grief, loss, and fear will take time to heal. Dr. Christakis predicts that many will experience symptoms similar to post traumatic stress. Plus, he stated that the economy is not going to bounce back immediately, and financial struggles will therefore continue for some time.
However, despite this and despite the injustices we are witnessing, Dr. Christakis emphasized the wonderful qualities that will get us through this incredibly difficult period. Humans have the capacity for love, cooperation, friendship, and generosity – even to strangers. The human species survived and evolved due to these positive social traits. We are social beings, interconnected with each other, other animals, and our environment. Our work is interdependent on others, how we learn is interdependent, our very existence is interdependent.
Fostering a work environment that is collaborative, supportive, and yes, social is foundational to individual and organizational well-being. Not only are loose and close work contacts essential for well-being, but a negative work environment is detrimental to well-being and productivity.
The Dalai Lama recently tweeted that, “Warm-heartedness and compassion are conducive to our physical and mental well-being — anger, hatred and fear are not. This is why some scientists today talk about warm-heartedness ensuring a ‘healthy mind and a healthy body’.”