Since the coronavirus outbreak, many people are finding their mental health and wellbeing affected in previously unforeseen ways. For many, the pandemic has brought about feelings of anxiety, stress and loneliness, while others are dealing with additional worries around finances and employment, or coping with bereavement.But there is help available. We have put together a number of resources you can use to support your mental health through the pandemic, and to access additional help where needed. Open the full PDF version for clickable links.
Accessing Mental Health Support During COVID-19
3 Tips for Managers on Supporting Employees’ Mental Health
COVID-19 and the need for safe distancing have accelerated the adoption of remote work arrangements by companies and it is likely to remain an option even after the pandemic is over. With more employees working from home, it has become harder for managers to detect the voice and facial cues of someone who needs support. There can be obvious signs of burn-out, fatigue or lack of engagement that are not picked up due to the lack of face-to-face interactions. Thus, when working remotely, managers and businesses need to be extra vigilant in checking in on team members, and being available with caring for mental health. Recognize the warning signsStress can manifest itself in a number of ways, including decreased satisfaction and commitment, lower productivity, increased personal conflicts, and a desire to disengage and disconnect. Employees may feel like they can’t admit they are burned out because it feels like a personal shortcoming or shows a lack of commitment. To get around this issue, astute managers will pay attention to changes in employees’ attitudes which may indicate a deeper issue. In a remote environment, this may mean explicitly asking employees about their mental state. This can include, for example, encouraging connections beyond work matters.Take something off their plateHigh performers are high performers for a reason – they take on a lot, and accomplish a lot. But eventually, even the most productive person can reach a breaking point. Recognize any early signs of stress, and relieve your busiest workers of certain roles or duties that can be reassigned. Everyone has a finite amount of hours in the day, and productivity without burnout requires strategic cutting back on the activities that consume energy.Show OptimismIf managers show optimism, their teams will too. As an article in Harvard Business Review shared, optimism is powerful and contagious. Attitude starts at the top and can set the tone for a difficult project or a remote team that needs positive encouragement. Leaders who demonstrate hopefulness and confidence in the future are better able to help their team members find meaning and purpose in work, especially under stressful conditions. Using humour can be a useful mechanism to relieve tension and foster greater commitment from teammates.
How Leaders Can Foster Innovation in Times of Crisis
The leaders that emerge in today’s crisis will help innovate to solve the problems of tomorrow. In times of uncertainty and turmoil, leadership matters even more because the leader sets the tone for how an organization responds. Businesses need to be guided with a steady and reassuring hand, and yet pivot and be agile when the situation demands it. Grit, persistence and collectiveness are some of the traits of an innovative culture, and they are needed to face some of our biggest problems. As businesses face crisis on a global level, here are a few ways leaders can step up and help to foster an innovative culture when it’s needed most. Learnability is a must Learning quickly is more important than ever in times of massive change. Leaders need to have not only a high IQ and EQ, they also need a high Learnability Quotient, or LQ. Today’s problems are so complex and multi-faceted that they require learning as fluid situations unfold. Leaders need to be role models by seeking out different experiences, unusual perspectives and by being open to fresh ideas, ever as they foster a culture of learning in their organizations. Experimentation and communication When we are in uncharted territory, leaders must also have an understanding of the technical skills required to effectively transform their business in times of change, such as how to suddenly shift to remote work. They should surround themselves with experts and take time to stay informed of the latest trends, challenges and opportunities facing their organization and how to communicate those needs quickly throughout the workforce. Ability to adapt for the next crisis Crisis and transformation does not create a once and done situation. Change is dynamic, so agility and continuous adaptation is essential. Feedback is important to informing what steps leaders should take. Leaders need to innovate, experiment and learn fast and support their teams to do the same. Tomorrow’s environment is just beginning.
How Do We See This Ending?
While it’s too early to tell when businesses will reopen or in-office work will resume, the way we picture the ending can tell us a lot about leadership. As we grapple with sobering unemployment numbers and hear of economic woes in nearly every industry, leaders face a balancing act of staying calm and reassuring, while also being realists about the state of their business.The question is what role optimism plays in maintaining the health and productivity of a team. Is the weekly jobs report half-empty or half-full? Positivity improves most aspects of job performance. It’s simply easier to stay productive when you feel a sense of purpose, growth or difference making. And it’s harder to maintain a rosy outlook when it feels like all is lost.Humans are hard-wired for optimism. It seems most people would prefer a distorted view of reality than one that delivers a cold truth. When Jim Carey’s character in Dumb and Dumber asks about his chances for dating Lauren Holly’s character, she gingerly replies that the odds are about one in a million. Her answer makes him ecstatic, exuberantly proclaiming, “so you’re telling me there’s a chance!”Many of us are choosing to see the economy through Jim Carey’s eyes. We believe there will be a “v-shaped” recovery. And there’s reason to believe the changes we’re experiencing during these times will have a lasting positive impact. We’ve wanted flexible working hours. We’ve been yearning to work from home. And now that we have these things, we’re unlikely to let them go.We’re basically biased toward optimism. As Thai Sharo, a cognitive neuroscientist at University College London, noted, “when it comes to predicting what will happen to us tomorrow, next week, or fifty years from now, we overestimate the likelihood of positive events, and underestimate the likelihood of negative events.” When it comes to seeing how the pandemic will end, our nature compels us to believe that it will all be magnificent. And why not? Reevaluating our conditions of employment in light of rapid change should have a positive effect on society.The optimists among us have pointed out how pollution levels are way down. The canals of Venice have turned clear. Animals are flourishing in cities. And we’re all suddenly interested in baking bread. When it comes to work, we’re becoming more empathetic, more flexible, and have a newfound appreciation for essential workers. These are all genuine reasons to be optimistic.Even as we’re grappling with insecurity and rapid change, great leaders can empower us with hope. According to Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, ManpowerGroup’s Chief Talent Scientist, the best business leaders combine internal pessimism (in order to see deficiencies and foresee problems and threats), with optimism (exuding a sense of positivity and nurturing hope in others). To be sure, this feels intuitively better than the reverse: being internally overconfident while projecting external insecurities.The best leaders are the ones rallying their employees to see the best possible outcome. If they work in sports, they’re reminding their employees of how much the world will need them when they come back. If they work in the restaurant business, they’re pointing to the indelible cultural fabric that restaurants provide to our cities and towns. Privately, they’re grappling with the unknowns of whether there will be a baseball or football season, or whether the restaurant customers will be ready when they finally switch on the open sign.No one can see how this will end. But the best leaders enable their teams to see the happiest ending. Their external optimism is encouraging them to strive for that result. Even if the odds are just one in a million. They’re telling them they have a chance.To see more on this topic from Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, see here.
Starting A New Job Remotely
When you’re starting a new role, your typical first day might consist of meeting with your new manager, picking up your equipment, trying to learn the names of your co-workers, and working out where the post room, toilets and printers are. But what if your new job is remote? How will you get to know your colleagues, get up to speed on your role, or know who to contact when you have questions?Here are a few ways to make your first remote day on the job a great success.Understand the onboarding processReach out ahead of time to your line manager or HR contact to find out what onboarding will look like. The organisation might mail a laptop to you, or they may ask you to use your own device. They might take you through an induction on your first day via Zoom, Skype or Microsoft Teams, or perhaps they will email you an employee handbook. The company itself may still be trying to formalise its remote working procedures, so the process may not be as smooth as usual. Make sure you discuss the logistics of the onboarding process beforehand and fully understand what to expect.Practice the “route”It’s common to travel to the location of your new job before your first day to make sure you don’t run into any issues or get lost. The same is true of a virtual first day. Start to log on early to allow yourself plenty of time in case of technical difficulties. Make sure all the appropriate software is downloaded ahead of time and you know how to use the technology.Pay attention to your presenceIt’s likely that your first day will consist of at least one virtual meeting with your manager or your team. While you may be used to working from home in casualwear, remember to dress professionally in order to make a good first impression. Pay attention to your virtual environment, including the lighting in your room, items in the background, and try to minimise external noise.Find out how your team communicatesIt’s important to learn how your manager and your wider team prefer to engage with each other. Do they rely heavily on email, or do they tend to utilise video or voice calls? Do they use any internal networks such as Teams, Slack or Yammer to keep in touch? With regards to your manager, do they like to receive queries as they come up via email, or would they rather tackle everything in a weekly one-to-one call? Are there particular times of the day or week that they prefer not to be disturbed? Keep in mind that your colleagues might still be trying to work out their preferences as they adjust to their new routine. But knowing your colleagues’ communication styles will help you integrate with the team more quickly and foster positive interactions.Make yourself knownUsually when you start a new job, you’d immediately be introduced to lots of people in the office and learn what they do. You’d also find yourself bumping into new people in the elevator or the kitchen and forging new relationships that way. This process is likely going to take a bit longer and require more effort when you’re starting remotely. Let people know you’re the new person in any online networks like Slack or Yammer, or by sending some short emails to other people in your division. If there’s a team meeting, try to find a moment to introduce yourself and your role. You might even need to remind people who you are when contacting them by email or on a conference call, since they won’t be seeing you on a day-to-day basis. Before making a comment on a group call, simply state who you are and mention that you’re new to the company.Find work buddiesSince you’re not going to be chatting to colleagues in the kitchen over a cup of tea or having a welcome lunch, it’s a good idea to proactively reach out to individuals to get to know them better. Set up a virtual coffee chat to find out about their roles, the projects they’re working on, and anything they think you should know about the organisation. Share any questions you might have and ask for recommendations on other individuals you should get to know within the business. What insights can they share with you about the culture of the organisation?Seek out opportunitiesThe pandemic is causing workplace disruption like we’ve never seen and circumstances are evolving rapidly. Due to the fast-changing situation, you might find yourself not as busy as you expected, or even that certain projects you anticipated working on have been shelved and other tasks prioritised. Don’t complain, but rather try to identify opportunities where you can add value. Reach out to others to offer your help, and speak up in meetings to suggest ideas. Think about the additional value you can bring to the business.There’s no doubt that this is a difficult time to transition into a new role. But by being proactive, patient and flexible, you can smoothly integrate with your new team and prove your worth to the organisation.Credit: ManpowerGroup UK
Distance Learning: How to Continue Education Remotely
Learning can take many forms. The desire and ability to quickly grow and adapt one's skill set to remain employable throughout their working life, or learnability, can be practiced both in-person and remotely. Professional development doesn’t have to be attending a conference or a four-hour workshop. Here are ways to continue learning remotely and foster career development. Focus on the future Continue career conversations with your manager, even if they are virtual. Don’t lose sight of the goal: Getting ahead both today and in the future means constant learning and development. Leverage technology training It’s not always possible to train everyone together. That’s where technology can come in and reach multiple workers on a flexible schedule. Social media chat forums allow real-time peer discussions to address challenges. E-learning, videos, and gamification are all options that ensure learning can take place anywhere, anytime. Shift to microlearning Conferences and workshops build in breaks and socialization for a reason. Taking downtime helps keep attention fresh and facilitates learning to sink in over time. Harvard Business Review recommends focusing on microlearning, or short lessons on a single topic in a five to 10-minute segment. Take educational breaks Your brain was not designed to be constantly “on” throughout the day, and you need recurring breaks to replenish your focus on tasks. But your rest can be productive, rather than simply scrolling through social media. Give your brain a boost with your break. You can use an app that teaches you a new language, do a crossword puzzle, or read a chapter in a book. Search for something that energizes you to be more productive later.
Tips for Leading Virtual Meetings
Running efficient meetings can be a difficult task under the best of circumstances. It can add to the challenges if all attendees are remote and reliant on technology. Here are tips to keep virtual meetings running smoothly. Set an agendaIt’s second nature to interpret physical and facial cues in person, but the task becomes harder when you can’t easily see everyone’s screen at once or if there is a lag in audio or video. This can lead to uncertainty about who should be contributing or people accidentally talking over each other. An agenda can help clarify a meeting by sharing ahead of time who is starting a conversation and then who is contributing. Over time, the flow will become more natural. Encourage participation In a time of physical distancing, it’s important to still connect with others on a human level and encourage active participation. Getting everyone to speak up in a remote setting can feel like a challenge since it’s easier to “hide” in a digital setting. First, provide time to talk socially, even putting aside time at the beginning or end of the meeting to share personal stories and small wins. Especially when there’s no physical place to gather, everyone needs a virtual watercooler. Second, manage participation by following five steps outlined by Harvard Business Review, which includes making sure the problem is felt by participants, and no more than five minutes goes by without people working on active solutions to problems together. Use meeting chat –– politely In a physical meeting, attendees can bring hands-outs, charts or slides. All those items can be used virtually by uploading and sharing links and attachments in the chat channel of the meeting for context about topics at hand. It can also be used for texting and asking questions while another person is speaking. But also use this politely by not dominating a conversation in the chat, just as you wouldn’t talk over someone in an in-person meeting. Use the chat function to supplement conversations, not replace them. Set up office hours and take breaksNot every virtual interaction has to be a formal meeting. Many online meeting tools like Microsoft Teams and Skype for Business allow you to set a status, where you can open up your virtual door and let others virtually drop in to ask work questions –– or just to chat. Don’t schedule back-to-back meetings which can lead to virtual meeting fatigue. Take a break away from the screen to give your brain a chance to switch gears between meetings.'Finally, remember to be patient with colleagues and with yourself as you adjust to virtual meetings. It will be an adjustment for many people. And when someone forgets to mute their mic –– inevitably –– just politely remind them that everyone can hear. We’ve all been there.
How to Boost Your Skills Remotely
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the world to a standstill. That includes what has traditionally constituted professional development, with businesses cutting non-essential travel, flights being canceled, and conventions and conferences have been called off or postponed. But this time can also be used effectively to keep professional skills sharp for when the world returns to normal. “If you’re not earning, use the time to be learning,” Becky Frankiewicz, President of ManpowerGroup North America, recently said in an interview with Cheddar. “The economy will come back and you can position yourself now to ensure that you have the right skills and capabilities.” Here are options for virtual learning that can be done anywhere, anytime. Webinars and online training Many conferences that have been forced to cancel in-person events have provided alternatives through webinars and virtual forums, often at reduced prices or no cost. Even if you weren’t planning on attending any upcoming conferences, the abundance of affordable and accessible webinars that provide star power and high talent is worth considering. Online learning courses are another option, such as LinkedIn Learning and Percipico. Currently, ManpowerGroup is offering 60 days of free access to Percipio, for those interested in online learning.Listen to podcasts In podcasts you’ll find authors talking about their books, researchers expounding on their discoveries and experts discussing techniques to improve any professional field. Search in Google Play or Apple’s iTunes for keywords that you want to learn for work, such as public speaking tips, advice for management or productivity hacks. To make sure you’re hearing from an authority, look for podcasts that are hosted by someone with credentials that you trust. Virtual networking Coffee meetings don’t need to stop just because you can’t physically meet for coffee. In fact, you have more possibilities if you open up to virtual coffee meetings to people across the country or world. Reach out to mentors or colleagues to ask questions, learn from someone more experienced and keep your networking skills sharp with virtual coffee. Reread classic business books Libraries and bookstores are closed. And yes, you can still order new business books online or access them on an e-reader. But you can also use this time to re-read (or finish) older business books that you have on your shelves. Consider what lessons you learned in the past, and if you have been following or have absorbed them over time. With the rapid pace of change, it can feel like surviving the daily battle is enough. But that means there’s never been a greater need to pursue continuous professional education. There has also never been a better time to learn for those who want to learn and keep growing.
A Practical Guide to a Safe Restart
As the date draws closer to 1st June 2020, preparing for the gradual re-opening of businesses after the end of the circuit breaker is top of mind for many employers. Most organizations are now at a critical juncture as they navigate a phased shift from remote work to restart operations and support their people to return to the workplace, while working within the requirements of the new physical distancing economy. Although the re-opening of workplaces differs by industry, we know that it will take large-scale cooperation and alliances to prepare. That’s why ManpowerGroup has forged a key partnership between other HR industry leaders to help companies plan a safe return to work. This week we co-published an industry report, “A Practical Guide to a Safe Restart: Best Practices for Organizations”, and call upon employers, trade unions and NGOs to join us, too. Organizations of all types and sizes can use this report to identify and apply best practices that will get them up and running in a safe, healthy and productive way. Download Report
Safely Back to Work in the New Normal
The impact of the Covid-19 health crisis and lock down continues to present unparalleled challenges, including rising unemployment in many markets. To prepare for a safe return to work and to restart economies around the world, ManpowerGroup has formed a HR services industry alliance and with that will make a vital contribution to helping people return safely and enabling companies adapt to the new normal. In a new paper, “Safely Back to Work in the New Normal”, the industry - which is the world’s largest private sector employer - calls for employers, trade unions, and NGOs to collaborate and for governments to support, stimulate and endorse these efforts. Download Report