ith an ongoing global pandemic and crisis facing us all, remote work becoming “the new normal,” and the social aspect of all of our lives missing in one way or another – right now, there’s no shortage of things to feel down about. While ideas of how to support and uplift your remote teams have been a hot topic of conversation lately, it is going to remain especially important as we enter into the winter months where we will continue our collective social distancing. Holidays will look different and rituals and traditional celebrations will likely be canceled – this is something leaders need to be mindful of in their employees.
Karn Manhas, CEO and Founder of Vancouver-based Terramera, a global agtech leader, notes three ways leaders can shift their thinking when approaching employees’ mental and physical health during this upcoming season.
There is no “business as usual” right now
Panic struck back in March when the pandemic hit the world on a global scale. As the world shifted into the “new normal” and everyone tried their best to adjust to changing and shifting priorities and work, the stress your employees are balancing in their lives is bigger than it has ever been before. “Stress can only be subdued for so long before it eventually erupts,” says Manhas, quoting child psychologist and educator Haim Ginott, who said that mood creates the climate in the room – even virtually in today’s context.
Take what you can control and let go of what you can’t
The most important thing that employees and leaders alike can do right now to ease their stress and balance their changing priorities is block out time for things they enjoy outside of work. For example, exercise, reading, virtually visiting with friends and family, and getting back into hobbies. Manhas suggests organizing this by asking yourself three questions: “What is in my span of direct control? What is in my sphere of influence? Finally, what is completely out of my control?” When you invest in yourself and take action in becoming a better version of you, no matter your title or position at work, you will be able to be the kind of leader you want to be.
Putting your employees first
In addition to the slew of mental health issues and concerns the world of remote work can bring to your employees, there are physical health issues to worry about as well. According to Melissa Afterman, an ergonomics consultant and environmental health and safety specialist at the University of California – at the beginning of the pandemic, everyone was fine working at home. As remote employees have settled into their routines, hunching over their laptops and not having a proper at-home office set up could only last so long. Combined with the mental stress of living through pandemic, a survey conducted by a digital health company called Hinge Health, found that 45 percent of Americans reported back and joint pain with 71 percent saying the pain was new or had worsened.
The first step to prioritizing your employees is creating an environment where people feel safe speaking up and asking for what they need. Secondly, you need to make sure you preserve your business goals and meet your objectives amid a crisis. Without engaged employees, this will not happen. Maybe your company has room to allow ergonomics into the remote work budget, or have an at-home allowance for a better desk set-up, whatever works for your business and its budget. The importance of the message here is that it should be on your mind as a leader in these trying times.
Companies and leaders must use this time to address pain points within their businesses, reconnect to their core goals, and analyze what role everyone can play in creating a better future for the organization when we all make it to the other side of the pandemic. While there is no doubt that there will be immense challenges to come for businesses worldwide and collectively, we are not “out of the woods” – having a structure in place and focusing on things within your control at this moment with your team will help you weather the storm.
Is your team engaged and ready to deliver the results you need to see in 2021? You can find out with our Employee Engagement Survey from The Predictive Index (PI).
Hurt, K., & Dye, D. (2020, August). The main reasons employees don’t speak their mind at work. Fast Company. Retrieved from https://www.fastcompany.com/90526638/the-main-reasons-employees-dont-speak-their-mind-at-work
Downes, S. (2020) How to keep your employees healthy while they’re working from home. Inc. Retrieved from https://www.inc.com/sophie-downes/remote-work-home-ergonomics-stress-back-pain-health.html?cid=sf01001
Manhas, K. (2020, October). How to inspire your team during a crisis without falling into toxic positivity. Fast Company. Retrieved from https://www.fastcompany.com/90564408/how-to-inspire-your-team-during-a-crisis-without-toxic-positivity