Employers have a lot on their shoulders as a result of our country’s challenges that are so close to home. Expectations come from all kinds of regulators, friends, and stakeholders. How can you ensure safety for your team? How do you continue your processes in ways that allow others to be safe? What do you do for your valued workers who don’t feel comfortable leaving their young children at home? And on top of all that, you’re trying to determine how to make this month’s payroll.

With all that going on, it may seem a little unfair to ask you to take on another responsibility, yet as an employer, you’re in a unique position to help your employees. Trust us when we say, every single person is being challenged. Your employees may not remember the details of this time, but they will reminder how their place of employment treated them, what you stand for, and how you keep them safe. For that reason, we wanted to share a few tips that may help.

Consider allowing employees to work from home more than you would have normally. Or, if possible, be flexible with assigned hours so your employees’ childcare and other family responsibilities don’t become an even greater source of stress. You can also encourage your team to take care of their physical and mental health by staying home when they don’t feel well. Provide regular check-in meetings, and offer support and encouragement through written words and emails. Remind employees you will do all you can to support them and keep them safe, and practice an open door policy so that they know they are not working in isolation.

There are also intangible ways to help your team as well.  Start by paying attention to symptoms of mental health challenges and encourage employees to get the support they need. That doesn’t mean your management team has to become psychologists. What it does mean is being alert to signs of depression, anxiety, stress, and other conditions such as potential substance abuse. It means noticing changes in behavior, such as an employee who is usually friendly and upbeat who has started snapping at co-workers. And it means listening when an employee tells you he or she is having trouble coping.

Beyond the impact to the individual, mental health issues can hurt attendance, productivity, and performance … and they can even drive your insurance costs up.  Annual mental health costs are increasing at twice the rate of other medical expenses, and a recent study found that people with mental health conditions make six times as many ER visits as the average person.

Another way you can provide the support your employees need is to develop an ongoing relationship with Care to Change. We can provide specialized counseling for employees and mental-health screenings that your employees can use confidentially to determine whether they or their family members might benefit from assistance. Our team provides counseling that will make a difference, and we’re using technology to provide the flexibility people need during this time.

If you’d like to know more about what we can do to support you and your employees … and how easily we can get started … please connect with us. We’re here to help.

Danielle Huff is Care to Change’s human resource coordinator, and leads our care and celebration committee.

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