2020 has provided many obstacles and challenges and has had a lasting impact on everyone’s lives. From the global pandemic to U.S. politics, there is no denying the weight and emotional toll these issues hold on top of our everyday responsibilities at work and at home. 2020 has left many people without their support systems and required most people to go long periods without seeing their families. Now is the time to reflect on how your organization prioritizes making time for staff to disconnect.
A 2019 study revealed that nearly half of all adults in the U.S. will experience a mental health issue in their lifetime and a year like 2020 has likely expedited these events. At Forum One, we have worked diligently to provide staff avenues to prioritize their mental health. Here are some ways you can prioritize your staff’s mental health.
Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) provide employees access to numerous resources for physical, mental, family, and financial well-being and may also be available through your health insurance carrier. If you have an EAP in place, take time to remind your staff of what is available, and if you don’t have one in place, consider adding one to your staff benefits. At Forum One, many of our staff are juggling work and parenthood, so we also encouraged our team to use extended Family Leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act if needed for their child care needs.
Through this tumultuous time, it’s vital to put an emphasis on flexibility. Having empathy for your staff means recognizing how tough it is to manage the stress of the world, their jobs, and their families. Consider how you can still continue the work of your organization without sacrificing your staff’s mental health. Some may need to take time off to help their children with their virtual school, take vacations, or practice self-care. If possible, also consider how much vacation or sick time you are willing to allow staff to roll over to 2021 or providing bonus company holidays throughout the year as a reward for your staff’s hard work.
Encourage your leadership team to remain open and transparent with your staff regarding how your organization is performing and provide an avenue for staff to ask questions. At Forum One, we’ve been paying closer attention to balancing our staff’s resourcing by better understanding what they are juggling at work and at home. We’ve also recommended staff start using the Clockwise browser extension to adjust meetings for more uninterrupted focus time. With all of these bigger changes this year, we have also seen a big impact from the simplest of things such as encouraging our staff to take breaks from work throughout their day to go outside and take a walk or to just step away from their computers.
Continued lengths of time spent at home mean that many of us are missing out on community and human connection that happens naturally in the physical workplace. One way to recreate this is to encourage your staff to connect with colleagues over happy hours, Zoom chats, and adding new chat channels focused on non-work-related subjects such as film reviews, recipes, sports, and fun pictures of staff pets.
At Forum One, we use the Donut app in Slack to give staff the chance to schedule 15- to 30-minute chats to connect two to four staff members that don’t work with one another often. We also recognize the importance of our staff connecting with their family and friends, which is why we have also encouraged staff to use their Forum One Zoom accounts to connect with family and friends across the country.
Ultimately, invest in what matters
Everyone, everywhere has experienced an increased emotional toll this year. With a few simple changes, you can show staff that your organization cares about their overall health—both physical and mental. When your staff feels taken care of, they will feel more motivated to take part in achieving your mission.
We make it a priority to invest in our people because they are our most valuable asset.