Every month, we’re highlighting stories, trends and tips related to employee engagement and workplace culture that organizations should be keeping top-of-mind in order to engage, retain and recruit top talent.

With the COVID-19 situation impacting nearly every company worldwide, many employees are feeling heightened levels of stress, anxiety and fear. Here are some tips for leaders and managers to support employees during this challenging time.

  • Be empathetic – One of the best things a leader or manager can do right now is show your employees that you care about them. Ask them how they’re doing and how you can support them. Listen to their fears and concerns and do what you can to help alleviate them. Be flexible where possible, especially for those navigating working from home with kids out of school.
  • Communicate regularly and openly – Stay in touch with your employees, and provide regular updates about the situation. Share any changes to operations as soon as decisions are made, including the “why.” Be transparent but also brief – lots of detailed information, all the time, can increase fear, stress and anxiety.
  • Model self-certainty – As a leader, it’s critical that you stay calm, confident and positive throughout this situation, as employees will be looking to you for cues for how they should respond. Set the tone for your team.
  • Foster connections and a “we’re in this together” mentality – While employees may not be able to come together physically in this situation, find ways to emphasize that you are all in this together, and that you will get through this together. Lean on technology as much as possible to host regular team check-ins, and encourage your employees to check-in with each other as well.
  • Focus on the facts and the positives – Emphasizing accurate facts about COVID-19 and helping employees understand what they mean can help reduce anxiety. Additionally, try to shift toward the positive over the negative, such as sharing stories about people stepping up to help others during this difficult time.
  • Encourage employees to make self-care a priority – Self-care is extremely important to mental health during times like this, especially with people forced to stay inside. Make sure your employees are taking the time they need to take care of themselves. Here are some way employees can minimize anxiety and stress:
    • Take breaks from watching, reading or listening to the COVID-19 news coverage, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting. When you are looking for updates, stay informed through trusted resources, such as WHO, CDC and local authorities – not media headlines or social media.
    • Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and avoid alcohol and drugs.
    • Make time to unwind and do activities you enjoy.
    • Get outside – being outdoors and in natural surroundings has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety. If being outside isn’t an option, mimic the outdoors by surrounding yourself with plants, flowers, as much light as possible, soothing music and comfortable chairs when you need a break.
    • Fight helplessness by finding purpose. Finding purpose can alleviate restlessness and anxiety. Choose things you can control, be it shifting negative thoughts into positive ones, reading a good book, choosing what to cook for dinner, or other activities you have power over.
    • Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you’re feeling. Call your healthcare provider if stress gets in the way of your daily activities for several days in a row.

How is your company handling this situation and making sure employees continue to feel supported and engaged? For questions, guidance or support with your efforts, Padilla’s Coronavirus Response Team is here to help.