When the world changed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, most people never imagined it would last more than a year, much less two and counting. Employees had to rapidly adjust to remote work and employers scrambled to find resources to maintain productivity and support their employees. Without much guidance at all, employers designed processes and procedures that would work for their business’s unique needs.
The transition was stressful for many employees as they watched the unemployment rate in the U.S. increase to numbers not seen since the Great Depression. The sense of security they once felt was suddenly gone.
Compound that insecurity with the challenges of balancing work life and home life, all while doing their best to keep themselves and their loved ones safe and healthy, and it's no wonder many employees have reported a decline in their mental health. According to a 2020 Qualtrics study, 42% of employees said their mental health has declined since the start of the pandemic, while a more recent SHRM survey found 40% of employees still felt hopeless, burned our or exhausted.
Ways to Support Employee Mental Health and Wellness
Now facing a widespread return to in-person work, as well as continued battles with anxiety and burnout, many employers may not know how best to support employee mental health and wellness. In a recent Human Resource Executive article, Liane Hornsey, EVP & Chief People Officer at Palo Alto Networks, suggested four key areas of focus. These include:
Stability. Set clear expectations on what the post-pandemic workplace will look like and the steps that will be taken to ensure safety and security. Offer the option for employees to continue to work remotely if possible and invest in wellness programs and initiatives.
Inclusion. Employers who take action on diversity and inclusion in the workplace will likely benefit from more satisfied employees.
Trust. Establish a company culture where employees feel seen and heard. Develop programs where employees can express their concerns or their desire to grow and advance in their careers. Have managers conduct periodic wellness meetings with employees.
Contribution. It is important to give back to employees and invest in what matters most to them. Offer training and development opportunities, reward employees for a job well done or donate to a local charity or cause.
Fostering a workplace culture where employees feel supported and heard is a great first step in calming the anxiety and fear many may feel returning to the office. What additional ways can employers help employees manage the transition? We want to know your thoughts. Comment below!
If you have any questions regarding this topic or any other HR or recruiting questions, we are happy to help. Premier HR Solutions provides HR Consulting Services and Recruiting Services to small and medium-sized businesses. Click on the link below to schedule a complimentary consultation.