Even before the pandemic began, companies have been steadily increasing focus on employee well-being and empowerment, with the understanding that this directly affects performance and engagement. During this crisis, the need for vigilance in this area is skyrocketing but many leaders feel at a loss at how to proceed. In fact, a Gallup study in June showed that since the pandemic began, only one in three workers experience a sense of well-being, which makes them 63% more likely to experience burnout, illness and lapses in judgement. Additionally, leaders from all sectors tell me they are seeing their teams—employees, external partners and franchisees—experience anxiety and depression, both of which undermine effectiveness and the ability to adapt to changing times. So, what can leaders do to help guide and uplift their teams during this unprecedented crisis?
Here are 3 easy tips.
Share your vulnerability. This is now considered a best practice in leadership and it is here to stay. Be transparent with your personal journey (as appropriate) in navigating this crisis. For example, missing the in-person connection to your colleagues, and how you are dealing with that. People appreciate the courage it takes to reveal these personal details, and doing so with discernment, makes you relatable and authentic. As you share your solutions and insights, you get the chance to be a role model and inspire your team.
Proactively check-in. In preparation for a recent Zoom training with executives at a F100 firm, I conducted a company-wide survey and learned that since the pandemic began, 43% of the employees felt that no one in management had reached out to them in a meaningful or helpful way. Not surprisingly, these were the same people who were struggling the most and under-performing. Check-ins can be powerful tools, but to make a real difference, you need to first spend time listening. Then, offer support in a way that feels collaborative, realistic and reassuring. Having trouble making the time? Consider this: A recent study by Harvard Business Review found that employees who felt their managers were not good at communicating were 23% more likely to experience high stress levels and/or mental decline during this pandemic, which caused a slew of costly consequences across the board.
Provide resources. Whether in person or via Zoom, make sure your team has tools to stay focused, empowered and to deal with the heightened stress of these times. Having these resources makes your team feel valued, increases accountability and improves performance. In a recent training, I facilitated a 5-minute breathing exercise and we were all pleasantly surprised at what a big difference just a few minutes could make...Talk about return on investment. There are plenty of resources available and it’s encouraging to see how just a little bit of the right medicine can do so much to heal people, both as individuals and as teams.