We’ve all been through a lot in 2020. Between the COVID-19 pandemic, social injustice, and political tension, Americans have been juggling a lot of difficult emotions. Many people are working from home and are dealing with personal stressors on top of our collective crises.
If you lead a team of people, it’s your job to do what you can to support them and help them through difficult times. Our well-being affects our work performance, and as a leader, you need to understand that these crises have the potential to break down your team’s morale, happiness, and productivity.
So what can you do to emotionally support your employees during exceptionally difficult times? Here are some ideas.
Understand the Emotional Psychology Behind Performance
We don’t do our best work when we’re stressed out and worried about our personal lives. You’d never expect someone who’d just lost a loved on to put in 100% at the office (or even show up at all!) and you can’t expect the best from people during other times of crisis either. Grief, anxiety, and other challenging emotions have a major impact on performance, and it’s important to recognize that.
That doesn’t mean you’re entirely helpless to bring out more from your team during times of uncertainty and crisis, however. While it’s sometimes best for your employees to simply step back and take a break, it’s also beneficial to apply the principles of performance psychology in leadership to help your team members control their doubt, negativity, and stress.
Prioritize Self-Care Basics
Encourage your team members to take care of themselves. Many people skimp on the basics during times of crisis and end up feeling much worse as a result.
A healthy diet, regular exercise, and plenty of sleep are self-care basics that everyone should follow, especially when they’re struggling with challenges in their lives. Arianna Huffington warns against exhaustion and burnout because it’s important for employees to recharge and take some time for themselves.
Set a good example by not endorsing a 24/7 work culture. That can be difficult when everyone is working from home and has constant access to the “office,” but it’s important for the well-being of your employees to encourage them to practice self-care and to sign off at a reasonable hour.
Provide Support By Allowing Employees to Take Time Off
Many people feel guilty about feeling unproductive and emotional during times of crisis. They feel that they have to just continue to work and fight through their feelings instead of making space for them. This is especially true when people are working from home and feel like they can’t justify taking time off.
If your employees are feeling the effects of a personal or collective crisis, you might actually need to encourage them to take time off. We all need some space and time to process what we’re feeling.
Your employees won’t be working at their peak if they haven’t had the time to recharge and take care of their emotional health. Give them a day or a week to take care of themselves before expecting them back at work. And remember to take some time off yourself!
Encourage Meditation as a form of Stress-Management
We all need some simple tools we can use when we’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed. Many people gain a lot of benefit from meditation and use it to feel more calm, centered, and present. Mindfulness is great for people who experience headaches, panic attacks, anxiety or are going through a crisis.
Some leaders are incorporating guided meditation into their weekly team schedules. You can host a short session every day, or a longer session once or twice a week. It’s very easy to get started, and it’s a wellness tool that everyone can use just about anywhere they go.
Daily or Weekly Check-Ins
If your employees are struggling right now, remember that you can support them with simple empathy and concern. Make a point of checking in with your team on a daily or weekly basis to see if there’s anything you can do to support them.
Checking in regularly helps people to feel supported and appreciated. It’s easy to feel isolated when you’re going through a crisis, even one that’s collective. Remember that your team members are all humans going through their own struggles and emotions. They will appreciate the effort you make in reaching out, even if it’s just to say that you care.