When you do a search for some of the biggest challenges facing HR professionals today, high on the list is the mental wellness of workers.
With all the changes in the world brought on by the pandemic, we have seen people stretched to their limits mentally, physically and emotionally. As the world opens back up, we automatically assume that we can return to life as it was.
But the problem is, that is not possible.
It’s not possible because life is not the same anymore.
We are not the same anymore.
Collectively, we have all had to pivot and adapt to keep going in life and at work.
That resilience is to be commended and appreciated but there were a lot of changes we had to make and change is not easy for most people.
Even the smallest of changes can cause stress in humans. Some of the changes people had to make were so monumental, you look back and wonder how in the world they made it through.
Many people feel traumatized
It's safe to say a lot of people feel as if they have been traumatized by many of the events and outcomes they experienced during the pandemic. These issues that have been tamped down in order to keep going, are now coming to the surface.
And it is showing up in life and showing up at work.
People are feeling the effects of extreme stress.
Therefore, you might find workers who were once positive and helpful becoming easily agitated or moody.
Those who were always on their A game, suddenly begin feeling overwhelmed.
People complain about being exhausted or feeling ill. Some even may be experiencing difficulty in being with other people again.
Untreated stress can lead to mental health problems, heart attacks and strokes, gastrointestinal problems, and many other maladies.
What is the solution?
What can be done by leaders and managers to help themselves and employees who may be struggling with the long term effects of stress?
Unfortunately, the answers to these questions aren’t so easy to find and most likely won’t fix the problem. But learning and using a few soft skills could at least get the conversation started and help people in the office realize they are not alone. And sometimes, just knowing that is enough to help them cope a bit better.
When leaders master the skill of showing empathy, they gain the trust of those around them.
An empathetic leader shows a curiosity, care and concern about the person, not just about the job position. Asking questions about people’s lives, families, challenges and goals helps build relationships, which leads to building trust, which leads to people feeling like they matter.
How are your communication skills?
When you speak do you bark orders or are you open to ideas, suggestions and even conversations? Are you clear with your messages and requests or are people trying to guess what you mean? And since communication isn’t one sided, how are your listening skills?
Are you actively listening to understand, listening to respond or worst of all just acting like you are listening?
The goal of a good communicator is to listen to understand. In order to improve this skill check your body language.
Look people in the eye. Keep your body in a position that is upright and open. Nod your head as you listen, this helps keep you engaged and helps people to feel more comfortable opening up to you.
Deadlines, added tasks, last minute adds to a project might have been easily handled pre-pandemic. But most people have had their life schedules and their work schedules all jumbled together the past few years. Helping people find ways to better manage their time, leads to less stress. Less stress helps people feel in control. When people feel more in control, things seem to move more smoothly.
Things to consider: Planning sessions, outlining priorities for projects, delegating work or assignments. The ideal situation is to see if there is a way to get the work done yet allowing the people to manage their time in a way that works best for them.
In order to master empathy, communication and time management you have to practice.
We at AlignHR challenge you to practice one or all of these soft skills and see if it improves the energy of your workforce and somewhat reduces the stress they may be feeling.