The emotional effects of a crisis such as Covid-19 are far-reaching and should not be underestimated. Your personal feelings of fear and worry about you and your family’s own health come to the forefront. Many people will experience changes in their sleep patterns or have difficulty attaining a full night’s sleep. If you already have health issues, they may worsen with increased stress levels. Those who may already struggle with anxiety or depression may feel further isolated during quarantine and stay-at-home orders many states have enacted.
We know from the medical journal, The Lancet, past viral outbreaks such as SARS caused the rate of PTSD in survivors to surge between 10%-29%. Infection fears, frustration, inadequate supplies and financial loss all contributed to major mental health concerns. In order to address these concerns, employers should consider the following three actions to help keep staff in a positive state of mind:
Communication in times of crisis is vital to the stability and longevity of any organization. Everyone in the company must be informed consistently and openly regarding all facets of the crisis and how the leadership is handling it. Leaders must be good listeners. We all must listen with the intention to understand and not defend or respond. We must understand our staff and be honest with what the situation is and how it is being dealt with day by day. It is essential that we keep well-being of our two main assets in mind: our people and the financial prosperity of the company.
As employers, addressing employee concerns quickly and completely is important. This is very difficult to do in a crisis when change happens rapidly and the future is unclear. Many of the common outlets people use to cope with difficult situations may have been taken away from them. For example, churches are being asked to not have services, people are being asked to limit any social interactions and businesses that are not essential are closed until further notice. The employer may be a person’s only outlet for support and advice.
Convey a Sense of Calmness
During times of crisis, people want to know everything is going to be okay. Employers can support their staff by establishing a sense of calmness and stability for the group. Starting and ending conversations with something positive, even if it has nothing to do with your particular business, can help improve morale. Positive affirmations, encouraging employees to exercise, enjoy the outdoors and limit their news intake can be helpful. Lastly, encourage people to take this time to begin new healthy habits and start some new self-improvement routines.
Build and Strengthen Relationships
Leaders should use a time like this to build and strengthen both personal and business relationships. People will feel more isolated from having to stay home and practice social distancing. This is an opportunity to reach out remotely and communicate more. We all have a chance to show acts of kindness and generosity which will be remembered for years to come. The Covid-19 crisis will be a historical event for which we will all have stories to tell and experiences to share. Let’s all commit to building and strengthening relationships to ensure we have made a positive impact on our patients, co-workers and business partners.