10 Ways To Support Employee Anxiety During COVID 19
During the COVID-19 pandemic, employee anxiety is at an all-time high, with 70 percent of Americans reporting that they’re feeling stressed. As an employer, during this difficult time, it’s important to recognize the emotions workers may be experiencing and offer ways to help them cope.
Reactions to COVID-19
The reactions employees may have to the virus are varied and include:
- Anxiety, worry, or panic
- Feeling helpless
- Social withdrawal
- Difficulty concentrating
- Sleep disturbances
- Hyper-vigilance to their health and body
- Increased use of drugs and alcohol
There’s no right or wrong way to respond to a situation like we’re currently facing. As a result, employers should try to support employees regardless of what they’re experiencing. There are several opportunities to help.
While organizations may be focusing a lot of time and attention on business continuity issues, it’s important not to overlook employees’ feelings in the midst of the crisis. Offering ways to help them manage their emotions can help improve their stress management, overall well-being and even their productivity.
Here are ten steps employers can take:
- Make sure employees are educated on the facts about the virus and precautions they can take to avoid contraction by sharing credible sources such as the CDC and WHO as well as state and local resources.
- Communicate policies and protocols so employees can understand any changes in the workplace they need to be aware of as well as updates on the company’s status and short-term future for greater transparency.
- Help employees manage their anxiety by reminding workers to keep things in perspective. Suggest that they limit the time they watch or listen to media coverage if they find it upsetting and focus instead on the things in their life that are positive.
- Encourage employees to behave compassionately. The circumstances are difficult for everyone right now so it’s important that workers recognize other’s feelings, accept them and support them with kindness.
- Since uncertainty can lead to stress, recommend that employees shift their attention to the things they have control over. For example, while they can’t control how other people behave, they can take steps to reduce their own risk of contracting the virus.
- Be aware that some individuals may be making assumptions about others at this time, such as those who have a cough or have been released from quarantine. So it’s important to make sure employees don’t stigmatize or place blame.
- Offer opportunities at your workplace for staff to relieve stress like meditation or small-sized walking groups. And remind employees to embrace healthy habits and focus on self-care during this time whether they are working from home or the office.
- Remain connected to remote workers with video conferencing. Some companies are even structuring virtual coffee meetings or happy hours after work or other opportunities for employees to maintain social networks and a sense of normalcy.
- Ensure employees understand if you offer additional opportunities if they are feeling overwhelmed with worry or anxiety such as an EAP program.
- Offer employees the opportunity to talk. Have an open door policy so workers feel comfortable reaching out with concerns. By reassuring and supporting them, you can ease their mind while also helping to build their trust and loyalty.
By taking care of your employees during the COVID-19 crisis, you’ll give them confidence that you’re making the right decisions to get them and the company through this difficult time. If you have any questions about how to support your employees now or as the economy begins to reopen, take advantage of our HR Helpline special. For more information about the impact of COVID-19 on your workforce, join us for a free webinar on Friday, April 24th at 11 AM.