8 Ways to Improve the Mental Health of Your Team
With so much uncertainty across the globe in education and other industries, the mental health of you and your team is likely suffering.
Those mental health issues won’t go away with a snap of a finger, so it is important to focus on the mental health of your team now and in the future.
“As we navigate various transitions over the coming months and years, leaders are likely to see employees struggle with anxiety, depression, burnout, trauma, and PTSD,” Kelly Greenwood and Natasha Krol say in Harvard Business Review.
Greenwood and Krol offer eight ways you can support the mental health of your team.
Greenwood and Krol say that if there is a silver lining of this pandemic, it is that mental health challenges are becoming normalized which can reduce the stigma that has often surrounded these struggles. Sharing your experiences with those around you is an important part of that normalization.
“Being honest about your mental health struggles as a leader opens the door for employees to feel comfortable talking with you about mental health challenges of their own,” they say.
Model health behaviors
Don’t be so focused on your team and their needs, that you forget to take care of yourself.
“Don’t just say you support mental health. Model it so that your team members feel they can prioritize self-care and set boundaries,” Greenwood and Krol say.
Build a culture of connection through check-ins
With many offices working remotely at least part of the time, it can be harder to recognize if your team is struggling.
Greenwood and Krol explain that “intentionally checking in with each of your direct reports on a regular basis is more critical than ever.”
Offer flexibility and be inclusive
Due to the uncertain nature of work right now, the needs of your team will likely change, so you need to be able to change with them.
“Make a customized approach to addressing stressors, such as challenges with childcare or feeling the need to work all the time. Proactively offer flexibility. Be as generous and realistic as possible,” Greenwood and Krol recommend.
Communicate more than you think you need to
There are so many things you can communicate with your team to make the mental load easier for them.
Greenwood and Krol recommend keeping your team informed about organizational changes, modified work hours or norms, workload expectations, and any shifting priorities.
Invest in training
Look for trainings that “debunk common myths, reduce stigma, and build the necessary skills to have productive conversations about mental health at work,” Greenwood and Krol say.
Modify policies and practices
Look for ways that you can ease the stress on your team.
“You may need to take a closer look at your rules and norms around flexible hours, paid time off, email and other communications, and paid and unpaid leave,” Greenwood and Krol explain. “Try to reframe performance reviews as opportunities for compassionate feedback and learning instead of evaluations against strict targets.”
Keep track of how your team is doing in simple ways such as a pulse survey. Measuring how people are doing now and over time helps keep you accountable and gives you opportunities to change what you are doing.