It’s time to show up. It’s time to show that you care.
Why now, you ask?
In a recent survey about the future of work, 60.2% of the respondents said that their mental health is worse than it was before the COVID 19 outbreak. This is not good. Even as we face a new cycle with the vaccine having launched, we are a long way away from clarity about what our future of work will be like. This is a marathon, and employers play a huge role in how people are doing.
Qualitatively, I get private chats from people every day with comments like:
“I am struggling.”
“Can I get 1:1 time with you?”
“This is as hard as it has ever been on me and my team.”
The tells of widespread stress at work are everywhere. You may see symptoms like mental health concerns, burnout, fatigue, and stress.
Your most important asset—your people—are suffering, and you’re probably feeling unsure what to do next or how to proceed. You want to help but do not know how best to do so,
You are not alone. Many people managers reach out to me because they feel out of their element with the emotional challenges their people are facing right now.
I’ve made a career guiding leaders and teams in working with this so-called ‘soft stuff’.
On the very same survey that showed decreased mental health, 97.8% of our respondents said that the number one change they want in their workplace post-COVID 19 is “employers who care for people”.
Now is the time that you, people leaders, actively show that you care.
I’m here to help.
My research (outlined in my 2019 book Bravespace Workplace: Making Your Company Fit for Human Life) reveals that there are 7 needs that work should fulfill. Leaders can influence four of these directly simply by how they show up. As a leader, you can show your care for your employees by working to meet their needs to:
- contribute – to do something that matters to someone.
- be seen – to be known and honored as themselves.
- connect – to have meaningful belonging with other people.
- feel supported – to be able to be brave knowing that there are risks.
How you do this is neither complex nor always easy. Here are my top 5 recommendations for what to do today:
- Check-in with people. Ask questions that are specific, ambiguous and personal. The right question invites connection, for example: “What are you planning to do for some rest and recovery over the holidays?” or “What has been an unexpected gift and/or stressor about working from home for you?” or “Tell me about what you’ve been working on lately and how you feel about your progress?” or “What support can I or the company provide you as this pandemic reality continues?” or “What’s making you smile these days?”
- Redesign how you meet. Structure your team meetings to begin with connection-building check-ins. As a leader, you have an opportunity to set the tone. Share early on so that people see you being vulnerable. Courage is contagious and when you show up, people copy you. (And you can show up without divulging your deepest secrets).
- Give praise often. Be ready to specifically highlight your teams’ contributions—what has been accomplished, what clients are saying is going well, what do you appreciate. Celebrate actions or achievements small and large. Remember the value of playfulness and lightheartedness.
- Support your teams health. Have your Employee Assistance Program or a local Counselor on point for your team. Share this resource so that if someone does need third-party or therapeutic support they know where to go. Be clear that external support is an option and not a prescription. Encourage other wellness habits and talk about what you are working on to be healthy, physically and emotionally.
- Put your oxygen mask on first. Remember, there is a way of being that is not always stressed. Slow yourself down by taking breaths. Practice curiosity—it has an amazing capacity to get you out of your head. Assume that others are trying their best. Stop judging whether you think someone is handling things well or not—just listen to what they are saying to you. The work will take care of itself when your people feel your care.
People at work are feeling enormous stress right now, even as they feel grateful to be among the fortunate who are working amidst high unemployment globally. What matters the most from you is that you (and by default, the company) care about them.
Care, and show it.
Show up for emotional wellness in your workforce. It will help people get grounded, feel seen, connect, and contribute.
Over the next few weeks I am taking a break from publishing new content to rest and reflect on the year we’ve come through and the future. During that time, I’ll send you a few of my best resources for creating workplaces that thrive on care.
We have some exciting new projects to reveal for 2021 and I can’t wait to tell you all about them and get you involved. Seriously, there is great stuff coming from me and my team.
Sending warmth and moments of joy to you this holiday season.