7 Steps To Responding To Your Team’s Anxiety About COVID19
School closures. Sport activity cancellations. Even Disneyland is closed. The crisis has now become ‘real’ for many of our employees and they are experiencing increased anxiety about COVID19.
The Coronavirus (COVID19) pandemic has sent many teams and businesses for a loop. You are probably seeing your employees experiencing a higher degree of uncertainty, worry and stress about the health and safety of their loved ones, and how the next couple of weeks will play out.
As leaders, we need to look for creative ways to do business and we need to protect the physical and psychological health of our employees during this crisis. Click to tweet
Here Are Seven Steps You Can Take To Manage Team Anxiety About COVID19:
- Know the risks and the signs. There is a lot of misinformation out there. Be the voice of reason and of trusted information. Provide posters, emails, and demonstrations on proper hand hygiene, and coughing and sneezing etiquette. Outline the symptoms of COVID19 and how to access local healthcare if needed. The symptoms of COVID19 include: fever, cough and difficulty breathing. Not everyone who has a cough or sore throat will have COVID19, so it is important to give guidance on when to access local healthcare. Information and flyers: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/symptoms.html
- Have a plan. Let employees know that you are thinking and looking ahead, that you will stay well-informed, and that you will try to answer the questions they already have like:
What if I get sick or if one of our colleagues gets sick?
How will that information be communicated?
How do I take time off work?
If you and your team are going to be working remotely, establish remote working practices. Consider the following questions:
When and how are you going to ‘meet’ as a team?
Are you going to host a morning huddle?
What platform are you going to use?
What is the recommended response time to a text or email?
Should you all use the phone more?
How will the team share sensitive information?
You may consider hosting one-on-one meetings to confidentially address their fears.
If your team is unable to work remotely focus on providing epidemic protection, including proper sanitation, personal protective equipment, and safety of the workplace environment. The WHO recommends rotating workers from higher-stress to lower-stress functions, and partnering inexperienced workers with their more experienced colleagues. Rotating and the buddy system help your team minimize the impact of other stressors at this time, and provide support and reduce the fear that they may be experiencing.
- Communication is key. People can become more distressed if they see repeated images or hear repeated reports about the outbreak in the media. Encourage your team to minimize watching, reading or listening to news if that causes them to feel more anxious or distressed. Avoid social media where misinformation can run rampant. Seek information only from trusted sources. Let your team know that they can expect regular updates from you and the organization.
- Access To Resources. Let your team know that it is okay to experience some anxiety about COVID19. If you have an EAP, remind them of how to access that resource. If you don’t have an EAP, know what community resources are available and post how to connect with these resources.
- Role Model. As the leader, it is important that you role-model self-care strategies to your team. Talk about the positive ways that you are managing your stress. Highlight times when the team has overcome adversity in the past. Recognize the unique strengths of individuals on the team and how they can play a role in supporting each other. This may be the time to hang on to familiar routines in daily life as much as possible, or for some, it may be the perfect time to create new routines and hobbies, especially if your employee have young children who must stay at home with them.
- Recognize And Reassure. There will be many different reactions and anxiety about COVID19. Your role as a leader, is to know how each of your team members responds under stress. Some will shut down. Some become angry. Some buckle down. Some won’t be able to sleep or concentrate. And others may increase their use of alcohol or other drugs. You need to be able to recognize when the stress has become unmanageable for someone on your team.Anxiety, panic, and depression. With one in five experiencing some sort of mental health issue during their lifetime, dealing with the impact of COVID19 may require some to take time off. Others may need to reach out to a professional for support. Some employees may need to take mental health days and access medical intervention in order to cope. Encourage employees to practice self-care activities such as relaxation exercises, listening to relaxing music, and taking regular breaks. Encourage your team to not shut themselves off from their supports. There are numerous ways to reach out and connect that don’t involve close physical contact, including a zoom call or emails. It is still important to maintain healthy relationships during this crisis, even while encouraging social distancing.
- Finally, Go With The Flow. It will be a while before business returns to a normal state, if at all in some industries.
Resiliency is the ability, in the face of difficulty, to retain flexible cognitive, behavioural, and emotional responses. It is about healthy ways to integrate this experience into your life and move forward. Supportive leaders find ways to help their teams move forward and stay resilient with strength, spirit, and a sense of optimism and humour mixed in.
Check out the latest mental health infographics: https://worksmartlivesmart.com/mental-health-infographics
If you have some strategies to share – comment on this posting!
Do you need someone to work with you, your leaders, and teams on building resiliency during these times? Connect with Beverly at firstname.lastname@example.org
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