We all know that the end of a year—the clock turning over from December 31 to January 1—is solely symbolic. Nothing magical transpires overnight, and while the clock does reset in a sense, the world does not.
And so even as the final hours of 2020 elicited a global sigh of relief, we also knew that 2021 promised its own challenges—and the first weeks of the year have proven just that.
For the foreseeable future, both employers and employees alike still face financial, emotional, and medical struggles, all of which affect mental health. That makes it as important as ever to consider how as an employer you can support your staff.
While It may feel as though most things are out of your control right now, there are concrete steps you can take to care for your employees, as well as yourself.
Here are 7 easy ways you can support your employees in 2021.
- Communicate with your employees regularly to reduce stigma around seeking support. Simple acts such as passing along information about yoga or simple workday stress reducers can go a long way in creating a nurturing work environment. It’s also always good to remind employees about EAP options, should they want support.
- Talk with managers about how to recognize when someone is having a hard time (i.e., understanding signs of burnout), as well as looking for ways to increase flexibility for how work is done.
- Simply making time to check in with employees can easily help you identify any signs that they may need support. This is important to do on an individual level as well as more generally. Survey your employees to see if what you’re doing is working, and give them space to make suggestions.
- Take note of groups that are often most at risk, such as parents, younger employees, employees with lower incomes, and those who have had hours reduced. Also pay close attention to those who have recently transitioned back to work, considering any concerns they may have about health and personal readjustment.
- If you’re an owner, executive, manager, or HR leader and need advice or support, contact your EAP or find a mental health professional you can consult to seek input and invite ideas on particular issues.
- Make it easy for employees to take the first step in seeking mental health support. As a therapist, I can’t tell you how often I’ve done mental health training for a company only to have a number of people who attended the training contact me afterward about seeking support for the first time. Survey your company for things they might like support with, such as managing stress, parenting, or mindful eating, and reach out to some therapists through your EAP or in your community to offer training. Hint: For those with privacy concerns, it’s helpful to have the option of attending such trainings anonymously.
- Sleep problems have a high correlation to burnout, stress, being overweight, and even chronic health conditions. There are a large number of people who have difficulty with falling asleep, staying asleep, getting too little sleep, waking up, or having ongoing drowsiness throughout the day. Be aware of signs of sleep disorders in your employees, such as a high use of energy drinks or coffee or simply chronically looking tired. You might consider putting out a company memo on the importance of sleep, mentioning resources such as places where employees can get tested for sleep apnea, or even a free app like CBT-I Coach, which was developed by the VA and helps people track and induce sleep.