How Employers Can Support Employee Well-being During Uncertain Times

Mature latin woman doing yoga indoor with laptop - Healthy lifestyle concept - Home isolated for coronavirus.

In turbulent times, employees may feel their world has turned upside down. Predictable routines suddenly change, creating uncomfortable experiences. Employees may become more anxious and worry about the future. And they may struggle to sleep at night, which can affect their focus and productivity at work. To help out, here’s how employers can support employee well-being during uncertain times.

Provide mental health benefits

Everyone struggles with feelings of depression and loneliness at times. Usually, people know how to fight the doldrums, and know that these feelings will pass. But during uncertain times, continuous changes and disruption can increase people’s stress and despair. They may not see a pathway to hope and better days.

Since employees handle difficulties in different ways, employers should offer various programs to support their mental well-being. For example, workers may benefit from watching self-help videos that teach coping techniques. Two more ways to reduce anxiety are listening to soothing music and joining in virtual team gatherings with friends.

Encourage physical activity

Exercise in almost any form releases endorphins that can help relieve stress, Mayo Clinic reports. Encourage employees to participate in exercise, and activities that distract them from anxious thoughts and worries. This may help boost positive feelings, better attitudes and overall well-being.

Offer a fitness perk to help with the cost of a gym membership, workout videos or streaming online exercise classes. Or, set up a virtual exercise group, so employees can set goals and support each other.

Offer counseling

Many employees stressed by uncertain times tend to take more sick days. They may miss meetings and struggle to complete work projects. They also may be having relationship problems. During COVID-19, mental distress among Americans tripled. One study found that nearly 66% of employees missed an hour or more of work every day.

To provide emotional support for employees, employers can offer employee assistance programs (EAPs). This can help employees better manage their current issues and concerns. It’s a confidential service that employees can use if they are working remotely, or in the office. Counseling sessions can be set up on the phone, online or in person.

Promote work-life balance

Employers can help workers cope with stress and enhance well-being by promoting work-life balance. They can provide extra paid time off and resources to help employees take care of their families or aging parents. Employees also should encourage employees to stick to a set work schedule. This helps avoid employees spending time after hours answering emails and texts.

During turbulent times, employees often have to develop solutions on the fly to help deal with work and life changes. To lend a hand, learn about four change management ideas for helping maintain employee well-being.

Society for Human Resource Management