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Five steps to support employee mental health and well-being during a crisis
Whether in a message from your CEO or senior leadership, or through an all-staff town hall or other discussion forum, let employees know you’re offering support. Acknowledge the conflict, commit to a company culture of compassion, and emphasize the importance of an inclusive, supportive workplace.
Consider backing up your commitment with a contribution to a humanitarian organization. You can solicit feedback from employees who are familiar with the region to help guide your donation. A company-matching pledge can unite employees for a common cause, bridge workplace divisions, create belonging at work, and combat a sense of hopelessness through action.
Make sure to communicate to all employees about the support you’re providing. Connect your actions to your company values, especially if you have a history of standing up for human rights or democracy.
Encouraging workplace conversations about real-world issues affecting employees can strengthen your company’s culture and help workers feel supported. Begin by setting clear ground rules for civil discourse at work.
Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) and other affinity networks groups may be well positioned to lead employee conversations about the conflict and make recommendations to leadership about workplace support needs. These groups may also be able to mine the unique perspectives from diverse communities of employees and the unseen implications the crisis has on them.
Possible signs of distress include noticing changes that are not typical for a person in appearance, behavior, mood, and related issues. This might show up at work as a drop in performance, being late for meetings and/or work, social withdrawal, irritability, excessive vigilance, a heightened startle response, and difficulty concentrating or sleeping. If you notice these signs, check-in to let the person know that you care, and ask for permission to connect them with internal resources or professional support.
Remind managers to “check-in” with their teams and to be aware that current events may be affecting employees. If they are aware of employees who are experiencing distress, remind managers of the importance of being flexible with workloads, deadlines, and to ask a team member about any additional support needs. Especially for employees with friends or family in the affected area, recognize their need to put personal or family needs first, and provide them with the support to do so.
Managers should be encouraged to listen and empathize with team members directly impacted by the conflict and to be aware of company and community resources that are available for supportive referrals. Check in with managers on how you can support them while they are supporting their teams during difficult times.
Use check-ins and conversations that may arise about the conflict as opportunities to share your company’s mental health benefits and Employee Assistance Program (EAP) offerings. Ask your EAP provider if they are offering special tools or resources for affected populations to share through company emails or other distribution methods. You can also refer employees to self-care tips for coping with stressful news and guidance for parents on how to talk to children about crises.
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