Coping Tips for Employers and Team Members
By Centra Communications & Marketing Staff

We’re nearing the one-year mark of COVID-19 ravaging our world. Whether it’s fear of the unknown, concern about getting the virus, social distancing fatigue or managing work and children at home, businesses and their teams are still feeling the stress. This, combined with the often gloomy winter months, could make this first season of 2021 especially challenging for many.

To keep workplaces healthy and thriving, it’s important for business leaders to make supporting their team members a priority and for employees to find a balance while utilizing coping mechanisms.

Keep Communication Lines Open

Frequent and open communication is the most important thing for an employer to practice, followed closely by patience.

Leaders must keep in mind that all employees are different and may handle new work arrangements differently. Employees who first loved working from home might be feeling isolated now. Also, working from home and lack of personal interaction might be particularly hard for those who thrive on “together time.” What might be a dream come true for introverts might prove particularly difficult for extroverts. Remember to check in with all team members, both introverts and extroverts, and acknowledge the challenges they might be facing.

When you check in with employees, make sure to talk about more than work. Spending time discussing what’s going on, or what’s not going on as the case might be, is an important part of finding balance and connection. You could be the only person someone talks to that day and having “water cooler talk” regularly can go a long way.

Pay attention to subtle changes with your team. It’s easy for fatigue, depression and anxiety to overwhelm individuals. If someone who is normally bubbly seems flat, make sure to really lean into that person and make sure they are OK. The same goes for the quieter team members. It might be even easier for them to retreat and feel alone.

Since virtual meetings are more popular now since the pandemic, ask everyone to turn on their cameras when you use technology such as Teams or Zoom. It’s not a replacement for in-person meetings but will help everyone to feel more connected. Just make sure to pay attention to your surroundings and attire. If something embarrassing happens, support the person and make light of the situation.

Take Care of Yourself

Employees, especially those working from home, must do their part in practicing self-care. Having a set routine is important for those working from home. Wake up at the same time, get showered and dressed and take regular breaks to walk, move or get outside. At night, make sure to turn off your computer, and be sure to have a clear distinction between home and office even though they are often in the same place.

During work hours, set up regular meetings with your teammates, supervisor and others. Use digital platforms or, if you are meeting in person, make sure to wear a mask and stay six feet apart.

Leaders can often be so concerned with their team members that they forget to focus on their own well-being. Make sure you are taking care of yourself, too. “Many life lessons can be gleaned from the corny airline axiom to ‘always put on your own mask before helping others’,” says Duncan Hughes, MD, Medical Director of Healthworks. “Be sure you’re taking time to care for yourself and keeping a healthy balance between the mental, physical and spiritual. Doing so will help keep you from ‘passing out’ and being unavailable.”

Spread the Word about Your EAP

Finally, make sure the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is front and center for your team. EAPs offer counseling to assist team members with everyday challenges in areas such as parenting, elder care, health, fitness, finances and legal consultation. These confidential, professional mental health and substance abuse services can improve an employee’s quality of life at home and work. They are ready to help you and your team members deal with problems during this uncertain time. If your company doesn’t have an EAP,
call 434-200-6933.

We’re not out of the woods yet, but by implementing the above strategies, doing some research and taking advantage of EAP services, you can help your business, your team and yourself get through the long winter months.

If you are in a crisis, don’t wait. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1.800.273.8255 or text 741741.

The American Psychiatric Association has some additional recommendations for employees and employers: