Getting Ahead

How To Manage Workplace Stress Dealing With The Coronavirus Pandemic

Here are some advice on dealing with stress in these tough times. 

You are resilient. 

The stress in the workplace right now can feel overwhelming, so ask yourself, what do I need to do to get a handle on it? How can I problem solve and make things better? Resilience is hardwired into us. You need to tap into this trait to get some control over your life. Navigate through life in real-time, and tell yourself I’ll bounce-back or better still, bounce forward.

Learn to work remotely.

If you are a manager of employees who are new to remote work, reach out and check in with them a couple of times a day. They don’t have a routine down yet and may feel guilty or like they’re cheating if they take a break. Managers need to set expectations and suggest a routine to do the work. Discuss the need to take time to have lunch or to go outside for a little walk. Offer ideas that will help your employees to better manage this whole new routine of working from home. As a worker, you need to create an environment of control for yourself so that you’re able to handle that you may be working from home for a while.

Let employees know you care. 

You want to have an open-door policy right now, and that translates to telling your employees, “let’s talk.” A manager can help the employee feel like you are there for them. Be transparent with what you know. You will increase loyalty and retention as a byproduct because of your concern. People want something to hold onto right now. The company is a great thing to anchor to. Talk to your employees about what they can do to reach out to customers. It’s customers that you’re going to want to keep or get back once the economic climate changes. So help your employees. Coach them, mentor them.

Self-care is key. 

Do whatever you can to take good care of yourself. Get a good night's sleep. Exercise is important. The gym’s closed? Try doing a YouTube video for Pilates, yoga, or Tai Chi. Go outside and go for a walk. Listen to upbeat music. Eat as healthy as you can. Connect to your friends and family. It would help if you had social connection right now. You’ll have more time on your hands, so consider learning a new hobby. All those home projects you’ve been putting on hold, get them off your to-do list.

Acknowledge that our biology, the amygdala, is in overdrive to keep us safe. 

You can’t control what is happening around you, but you can control how you respond to it. Get to a place of acceptance. This does not mean agreement, but you must accept reality as it is happening. Company leaders and managers need to offer support and tell employees you have their back. Right now, employees are scared that they might get sick, their family might get sick, and ultimately they are worried their work hours will be cut, or they will lose their jobs. Your role as a leader is to help support them and reassure them that everything is going to be okay. Stress that the company has this under control in terms of taking care of its employees. It understands if you have to balance working from home and childcare. In Laura’s case, her employer needs to realize that she has to balance the needs of a sick husband and her workload.

Share something you are grateful for. 

Focus on the positive it keeps you away from all the negative reports that can put you and employees in a place of fear. For example, a manager can start a conference call or online meeting with each person saying, “Tell us one thing there grateful for you.” Offer an example, such as “I’m grateful that my family is healthy.” Or “I’m grateful for friends who are supporting me now.” The best way to manifest the idea of gratitude is to acknowledge people around you. Ask friends and neighbors if they need any help. One example was a person who posted on Facebook and said, “Hey, I’m healthy. I can go to the grocery store. I can go pick up prescriptions at the pharmacy. I can even cook you dinner if you need it.” By focusing on the positive things that you can do to help others that will help you.

Act compassionately towards others. 

Many baby boomers are managers out there, and they need to take over the role and inquire about how each member of their team is really doing. Don’t try to plow through the work. Touch base with the person and get them to talk about what they’re thinking and worried about. Showing compassion and empathy during this time is critical. Now is the time to be a champion inside your organization so that the employees feel like they’re not alone, and the company does care about them. 

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