Stress in the workplace isn’t new. The subject was addressed in an earlier blog. However, according to Met Life, two of every three employees report feeling more stressed than before the pandemic. The good news is that employees who feel supported by their employers have reduced stress and improved productivity. What can you do to help your staff and yourself handle stress during COVID-19? Here are some ideas.
Use flexible work hours
Employees working from home as well as those who’ve returned to the workplace may also have family responsibilities. For employees with young children, the challenges of the upcoming school are immense. Flexible hours can help employees better manage their work-life balance and reduce stress.
Make safety a core company value
As the pandemic continues, it’s hard for employees to feel relaxed when concerns about contamination on the job are present. OSHA has links to helpful information, including OSHA standards for COVID-19. Make sure that company policy at a minimum follows the standards and hopefully exceeds them to help employees reduce stress.
With 61% of the workforce still operating remotely, employees can feel they’re not being recognized. Reach out to employees and let them know you want to minimize their stress. Consider, offering tools designed to reduce stress. For example, b.minton has a toolkit containing items that science says help to reduce stress; they also offer training. (Disclosure: this is my daughter’s company.)
One of the causes of stress that I’ve been hearing about during this pandemic is work overload due to reduced staffing. Some companies want fewer employees to do all the work, which may not be possible…or at least not at the cost of considerable stress to them. Employers need to have realistic expectations about what employees can do, whether working remotely or on the premises. Take advantage of tax breaks, such as the employee retention credit, and financial support, such as state and local loans and grants, to maintain the staffing required to handle the workload.
In the words of Fred Rogers: “In times of stress, the best thing we can to for each other is to listen with our ears and our hearts and to be assured that our questions are just as important as the answers.”
Consider providing mental health support. Let employees know what’s covered by the company’s group health plan. Provide a list of local resources that employees can tap into. Also check out 62 stress management techniques, strategies, and activities that you may be able to use to help your employees, and you, deal with the heightened stress from the pandemic. And take a deep breath!