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March 2, 2020

How to support your teams through COVID-19 stress

There’s a lot going on in the news about the COVID-19 virus and it may be making you or your employees feel anxious about health and safety. Faced with this news and its accompanying unknowns, it’s completely normal to experience a range of emotional, mental, or behavioral reactions that are unfamiliar or hard to address.

As a manager, it can be especially tough to know how best to support your teams, as stress can manifest itself in different ways. The virus may make people feel worried about traveling, commuting on public transportation, or even coming into work if they feel like their work environment isn’t taking sufficient precautions.

Here are some tools to help you cope with ongoing news coverage and ideas for ways that you can support your team’s physical and emotional health.

First, recognize signs of stressors.

It’s common for people to express stress in different ways in response to widespread health crises or traumatic events. Some common reactions to look out for include:

  • Emotions. Fear, irritability, anger, sadness, or guilt. 

  • Thoughts. Finding it hard to gather thoughts, having recurring dreams and nightmares, or blaming oneself or others. 

  • Behaviors. Keeping excessively busy, isolating, or being overly cautious. 

  • Physical Effects. Tiredness, headaches, increased heart rate, or difficulty breathing. 

Second, empower your team to put their self care first.

It can be hard for employees to ask their employers and managers for support, or even know where to start. Be proactive about communicating with your team and letting them know you’re supportive of them prioritizing their self care.

  • Communicate safety protocols. If your HR team hasn’t already done so, request they send a company-wide email informing employees about preventative actions the company is taking to ensure employee health and safety. This includes offering flexibility to employees to be able to work from home for as long as needed, if necessary.

  • Follow up with your team. During your next team meeting, address any concerns or questions and make tactical adjustments to team practices as necessary.
 Encourage team members to work from home if they’re feeling at all unwell.
 Add video conferencing to all recurring meetings to enable people to work from home.

Offer support, not stigma. Keep things positive and supportive. Fear and anxiety can lead to social stigma surrounding the virus. Intercept any stigma-induced comments or behavior that you observe to ensure that you’re creating an emotionally safe environment for all of your employees.

Modern Health

Modern Health is the comprehensive mental wellness platform that combines the WHO well-being assessment, self-service wellness kits, an international network of certified coaches, and licensed therapists available in 35 languages all in a single app. Modern Health empowers employers to lead the charge in acknowledging that mental health is just as important as physical health, de-stigmatizing the conversation, and increasing accessibility of mental health services for all.

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