As Mental Fatigue Sets In: Supporting Employees in Unprecedented times

According to a recent survey from Leger (January 2021), one in five working Canadians indicate that their current mental health has negatively impacted their engagement, motivation and job performance. When employees are not performing at their best, it affects a whole organization. As Canada continues to face lockdowns and restrictions, it’s imperative for companies to ensure their employees continue to feel supported and appreciated as the pandemic fatigue sets in. 

What can employers do?

Take the time to evaluate your organization and/or team to see what needs to be addressed. Where are their pain points? What forms of discomfort and areas of stress are most affecting your staff? Dig to understand the root causes.

Below are recommendations on how leaders can support their employees, keep them engaged and show appreciation as we continue to push through this pandemic. 

1. Open communication is key.

Speak to your team and employees on a regular basis. Check-in, set-up bi-weekly or monthly meetings to gauge how they are doing professionally and personally. Give them the opportunity to let you know how they are doing and, most importantly, feeling. Employee surveys are also a great tool for leaders to get a pulse on stress levels, workload, and review major irritants. The goal is to identify solutions and provide recommendations on how to alleviate the stressors they’re facing. 

2. Mental health matters.

The Leger survey revealed that 40% of Canadians say their mental health is worse compared to pre-pandemic times. To help your teams, consider creating a buddy system where everyone has a person they can easily talk to or provide wellness days for people to use when they feel overworked, tired and need some time to reset. 

3. Encourage breaks, push employees to go outside.

For many, remote working has taken away their regular office routines, like coffee breaks or eating lunch with colleagues. It’s important to encourage your team to make time for breaks away from their screens and go outside. With sunny weather upon us, it’s a great time to eat lunch outside, have walk-and-talks (holding phone meetings while on a walk) or even create a team building program that involves outdoor activities. These simple things can change how your employees feel and increase  productivity. 

4. Make room for “fun and unique” team building activities.

Making room for “fun and unique” team-building activities will boost morale and provide a much needed mental break. Out-of-the-box activities can have a positive impact on everyone’s well-being, creativity and problem solving skills. For example, The Playful Warrior offers organizations virtual PLAY sessions that reconnect adults with their inherent playful nature; this is done through different exercises, such as painting, drawing or dancing. Your team and employees will thank you for a fresh take when planning these types of activities. 

5. Acknowledge and show appreciation. 

It’s essential to take the time to express gratitude to your employees everyday but, especially during these times when people are juggling work and family, while battling fears and concerns. For example: 

      • A genuine thank you for their efforts can go a long way in making an employee feel appreciated and valued. 
      • Bring employees together for a 15-minute gratitude/thank you session; we can never have too much positivity. 
      • Similar to a wellness day, give time in lieu to those who have gone above and beyond.

No matter how big or small, gestures like these make a difference and contribute to a positive culture. 

As the saying goes… we are in the same storm, but not the same boat. For leaders,  it’s important to acknowledge we are all living with different realities. Providing the support your employees need will go a long way in keeping them engaged, but most importantly, feeling appreciated. 

Andrea Mancini About the author
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