Employee Mental Health During COVID
July 20th, 2020
We all know that the past several months have been a bit unsettled. After all, many of you and your employees have had to deal with remote working, juggling remote learning, and, in some cases, a partial return to the workplace. And, now, in the middle of the summer, many are experiencing a COVID resurgence that is again threatening to shut things down. All this leads to uncertainty and lends to anxiety. No doubt that many of your employees are feeling stressed and overwhelmed. As your Denver PEO we have put together some things you can do to check in on your employee’s mental health during these times.
The Facts: COVID Employee Mental Health
According to the Society for Human Resource Management between 22 and 35 percent of U.S. employees experience symptoms of depression during COVID. In the survey, they found that women, people living with at least one person of a vulnerable population, and younger workers are the most affected with depression symptoms. Some of the signs of employee depression include difficulty concentrating, feelings of failure, hopelessness, tiredness, and little interest in pursuing activities.
According to the Harvard Business Review, since the outbreak:
- 75 percent of people feel more isolated and alone
- 67 percent report higher stress
- 57 percent are feeling more significant anxiety
- 53 percent are emotionally exhausted
With these staggering facts, being aware of employee mental health is extremely important during this time.
What Employers Can Do to Help Employees
Actively Reach Out
Sadly, 40 percent of employees report that no one has reached out to see how they are coping during COVID. Business leaders, executives, and managers should prioritize weekly one-on-one check-ins with their team members. This touch base can be as little as 15 minutes to see how they are feeling and see if there is anything they can do to help.
If an employee opens up about their mental feelings, you do not need to try and solve the problem all at once. Be empathetic and listen to them. Just having someone who is their manager listening to them can go a long way in helping them unload their anxiety about work and the additional COVID stress. At the same time, show openness about what you are feeling and dealing with too. This open sharing helps build trust as well as conveys that they are not the only ones feeling the same thing. The feeling that “they are not the only one” can help them feel more hopeful and supported.
Be consistent in speaking with your employees about mental health. Don’t just have one conversation and think you checked the box. Keep in touch and check in periodically. Ninety percent of employees said they want weekly communication from their managers during the pandemic.
Communicate Available Resources
Make sure you let employees know about available resources. Many benefits plans include mental health resources. However, many companies have not been proactive in alerting employees that those resources are available, nor how to access them. Take time to ensure that these resources go out to employees. Send out an email with information, and if you have a central intranet, such as SharePoint, create a folder where information can be accessed and downloaded by employees.
Overall, helping employees during this time is making communication with employees the priority. Use weekly check-ins as an opportunity to listen and share with them everyday struggles – building trust and support. After all, we no longer have the “old water cooler” opportunity to interact socially. So, being more intentional to check-in and catch up is vital in helping improve your organization’s mental health.