Putting on the oxygen mask: Steps to support yourself and employees in challenging times

Putting on the oxygen mask: Steps to support yourself and employees in challenging times

By Matt Verdecchia | Employee Benefit News

While stress is a common occurrence for most people in normal times, our current situation is unprecedented. The consistent and ongoing challenges happening all at once — COVID-19, major storms and flooding, wildfires, economic instability, civil unrest and more — have the potential to create or exacerbate other issues and concerns, especially in regards to our mental health.

When the pandemic first began last spring, everyone rallied together to continue providing leadership and meeting the needs of clients and employees, but as the situation continues, burnout and decision fatigue are real. From education challenges to working remotely and much more, these constant stressors can take their toll on each of us. When faced with situations like this, it is important to support the well-being of employees and colleagues, but just as critical to prioritize self-care to preserve our own mental health.

Long-term impact of ongoing challenges

It is a testament to human resiliency that people are stepping out of their comfort zone and taking on more through this time, borne of both necessity and the desire to keep things moving. Yet this is not sustainable for everyone. Our emotional health is dependent on three primary, critical factors — predictability, safety or security, and trust. If we feel these are missing or out of balance, we grow increasingly distressed. This is currently evident in the clash of people with different viewpoints about a variety of issues, stemming from lack of impulse control, fear and more as a result of emotional distress.

For organizations, it is important to be aware of how these issues magnify the effects of typical day-to-day stressors on employees. Being distracted by everything going on can lead to an uptick in worksite accidents and other risks, as well as reduced productivity and focus. Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention note that people are increasing substance use to cope during this time. Regardless of whether an employee is increasing habitual drinking, self-medicating or using opioids or other controlled substances, there are inherent risks to the employee and their colleagues if they are working under the influence or this interferes with their personal or professional lives in other ways.

Finding strategies to manage the ongoing uncertainty and onslaught of stress is critical for both individuals and the workplace.

While this year has tested all of us in ways we did not anticipate, people have an innate ability to adapt and evolve resiliently.Taking these steps can help you and your team build back predictability and trust to restore your sense of security. By making time to address your own needs, you will be better prepared to support your employees and colleagues, helping to lift everyone up, even if they are in different boats.

To read the full article, visit EBN here.