By Guest Author: Athif Ibrahim
Boosting employees’ emotional well being is highly valuable for the company while a million dollars is not required and sometimes may not involve any costs.
An article was recently published about a CEO who made USD 1.6 million in the stock market and gave it all to his “non-highly compensated” employees. Such a financial gift to employees’ despite of the circumstances of the economy due to COVID-19 is a magnanimous task for any founder CEO or company to do which is a roaring example of an employee-first leadership.
Also, such a financial gesture to employees is good for morale to make employees feel valued. When employees feel valued, they will move mountains to help the business grow and stay afloat but it may not be possible for most and however should not give up and do good for the employees as that is what good leaders do.
The lack of money is not linked to emotional well-being of employees as it is rather how you make them feel such as being near while afar, provide value while apart and become each other’s emotional support with the platforms, tools, people and support systems that are already available.
The following are some advices to boost employees’ emotional well-being:
1. Pick up the Phone
Get on the phone or get on a zoom call and have a one-on-one with individual employees and ask them how they feel and how are they coping with these difficult situations and make them feel that they are talking to a thinking, emotional being. And, talks about financials and how awful the three-month forecast is and making the call feel like scripted to cover a five-point plan like a typical meeting must be avoided. The conversation should be about them rather than other matters.
The conversation should be a safe space for employees to share what’s on their minds and what’s bothering them without being judged or penalized in any way. For a start, ask they about their day or their loved ones whether they are safe and doing well and carefully listen to what they have to say and “Empathize”. Hence, rather than making your way out with just “oh, yeah? That’s too bad”, you should help and do anything possible for them and if that’s not possible, can refer to someone you know who can assist.
2. Leverage your internal communication channels to reach out to employees
When it is difficult to do one-on-ones with each employee while also trying to save the company from certain perish, the advantage of company’s internal communications channels can be taken and leverage it to reach employees wherever they are. One way is to share impromptu videos from you and other leaders on such platforms with no edit or filters and truest self which can be about how the day went and something experienced that can relate to others or can learn from.
Use those short videos to remind them they are still your number one priority.
- Share with them some expert tips on how they can deal with the stress and anxiety that’s synonymous with a crisis.
- Share with them the updates from the government and the relevant authorities and what it means for the business, so they know exactly where things stand.
- Share with them the resources and opportunities you are making available so they can use the downtime to learn, grow, and enhance their skillsets instead of squandering it.
- And use such short videos as an opportunity to communicate progress and updates about what’s going on within the company. It keeps your employees informed and gives them direction as to what they can expect next.
- Be honest and don’t sugarcoat anything. That’s how you build trust with your team and even though it is difficult, your employees deserve the unvarnished truth about everything. They might not like what you share, but they’ll appreciate your honesty.
Moreover, don’t need to worry about overcommunicating during a crisis and will not lose any points from that but if the communication is not enough, there is a possibility to lose a lot. Therefore, get through the internal communication channels and show employees that they are still part of a functioning company and that the company has not forgotten about their employees.
3. Assign managers as buddies or other colleagues as peer coaches and encourage them to check-in with their assigned buddies daily to guard against emotional isolation
A surefire way to boost your employees’ emotional well-being is to put mechanisms and support systems to take care of their mental health. Creating a buddy system where each manager including you is assigned to a handful of colleagues tasked to be in contact with those assigned to them daily will be a good start.
To make it more effective, those virtual “hangouts” can be video based instead of a mere phone call if the employee is okay with it only which can help combat the emotional isolation felt by them and give rhythm and structure to their day.
Here are some of the things you can encourage your team to talk about and ask their assigned employees during such virtual hangouts.
- Are they staying connected with their friends and family?
- Are they noticing any changes in their eating and sleeping patterns?
- Are they trying to keep fit and healthy by engaging in some form of exercise?
- Are they feeling anxious, claustrophobic, or trapped? Is it making them engage in unhealthy habits such as eating junk foods all the time or increased smoking?
A crisis can be a stressful time for a leader which demands time, attention, and energy to the point where you have nothing else to give and hence demanding to focus on everywhere all at once. Hence, can get their leaders to take some of those burdens off your plate. To take care of the employees, you must take care of yourself first. And, to ensure your employees are in an emotionally peak state of mind, it is important to put in place the necessary mechanisms, support systems, and safety nets to get the job done.
A financial gift can motivate employees but may not always be possible while a heart-to-heart conversation can create them a layer of mutual support that can also be effective to boost employee well-being. People never forget how managers made them feel during a crisis which is more than what a financial gift could ever give them.
About the Writer;
Athif is a Team leader at One&Only Reethi Rah, Maldives. He is also an ultra-runner and a co-founder and the Managing Director of nextstopmaldives.com. Athif writes about entrepreneurship, leadership, psychology, athletics, and life.