I think global workplaces and employees worldwide deserve a shoutout. We have had to assimilate in a myriad of new and undesirable ways, but look at the positive side of how well we have adapted.
Now, I’m not saying it’s been easy, or that great success has been witnessed everywhere. But, the level of resilience I have seen born out of this all encompassing struggle these past 12 months is incredible. Human beings are strong.
With that being said, I think it is important to recognize all the people who have sought to bring about comfort when discomfort reigns supreme. The people who have worked diligently to include other when physical barriers were erected and exclusion became the norm. The Caring Leaders in the world who sought to create more peace, to take care of people from afar, and make the harsh changes thrust upon everyone a gentler experience.
In a survey conducted by Mckinsey & Company in April 2020, “60% of all employee survey respondents also said they are starting, continuing, or expanding BH [behavioral health] services as part of their COVID-19 pandemic-related benefits”. A sign that positive change really is in effect. Further proof of this change is noted in an interview with SHRM Online where Ellen Kelsay, president and CEO of the Business Group on Health, said:
On a broader scale, employers are definitely factoring in the impact of the pandemic as they plan their strategy and benefits for 2021. In addition to telehealth, we are likely to see more focus on behavioral health needs and access, strengthening of management of chronic conditions post-COVID-19, and increased interest in advanced primary care and prevention.
This is hopeful news for workplaces everywhere; it highlights the logistical and administrative side of managing employee wellbeing and health. While I support this shift, I also advocate for the personal side, represented by Caring Leadership.
A Call to Arms
For all my readers, and especially anyone who finds themself in a leadership position, I urge you to please listen to what I say next.
If you have already taken the step on your Caring Leadership journey to implement emotional intelligence practices, EAP, remote work culture adjustments, free mental health services, access to counseling, therapy, etc. then, wonderful news, the next step will be a lot easier for you. If you are doing any of these, then I am pleading with you – Do. Not. Stop.
Whatever you have done to help your employees experience comfort, security, and receive health care during this time, just continue. Whether or not, “normal” work resumes, and regardless of how you plan on returning to work. Your employees’ wellbeing is your top priority, and it would not be in the interest of Caring Leadership to revoke any of these policies.
For anyone that has yet to incorporate a more employee needs’ focused organizational structure, then, now is your time to step up to the plate. The “less is more” approach is not in anyone’s favor at this point. The more we can give true care to our employees, the better.
The “How To”
Consider putting yourself and your leadership team through emotional intelligence training. Learn how to recognize and meet the needs of yourself, as well as your team members.
Study how to make recognition and appreciation the beautiful gift that they are, so they don’t fall flat and miss the mark.
Work on incorporating an EAP, or Employee Assistance Program, to offer free confidential assessments, counseling referrals to employees for both personal and work-related problems.
Offer other free mental health services. Mental Health America released a survey in 2021 finding that:
The number of people looking for help with anxiety and depression has skyrocketed. From January to September 2020, 315,220 people took the anxiety screen, a 93 percent increase over the 2019 total number of anxiety screens. 534,784 people took the depression screen, a 62 percent increase over the 2019 total number of depression screens.
My hope is that leaders everywhere continue to extend a helpful hand. You should go on hosting one-on-ones often, having coffee hours whether virtual or in person, and checking in on your team as you did on the hardest of days.
The crux of my point is simple: lean in more, not less.
Feel free to reach out to me if you find yourself struggling, or would like further recommendations on how to progress in your Caring Leadership journey.