Even before a global pandemic upended our lives, nearly three-fourths of workers said they experienced burnout at their jobs. Now, 69% of workers say that the COVID-19 pandemic is the single most stressful time of their entire career — and this unprecedented stress is taking a toll on everyone’s mental health. A recent CDC survey found that 41% of Americans are struggling with mental health issues stemming from the pandemic.
Responding to employee wellness right now is essential, and companies need to shift their mindset about employee health. According to the annual Deloitte Human Capital Trends survey, 96% of respondents agreed that organizations are responsible for their employees’ well-being, but despite that, nearly 80% said that well-being is not being integrated into their work environment.
Using learning content to support your managers and employees is a key way your organization can demonstrate a commitment to wellness, both personally and professionally. COVID-19 has created an opportunity and an obligation for companies to support their employees, create safe spaces and help get meaningful work done during a time of high stress—and learning content is there to meet the need.
In March 2020 alone, people across the globe engaged with 27.5 million hours of content on Cornerstone’s learning platform, and nearly half of our Cornerstone Learning clients saw an increase in logins in March 2020. When creating and curating wellness learning content for Cornerstone, we knew we needed to address the stress people have felt since the pandemic began. Having practical tips and tangible tools to manage stress can help team leads and employees at every level succeed at work.
Using Learning Content to Help Managers Support Wellness
In any stressful time, learning content in the hands of managers can support changed behaviors and mindsets. Managers can better understand how to be available and present, both in all-hands situations and in one-on-ones—and according to a recent Harvard Business Review study, employees who feel their managers don’t communicate well are 23% more likely to experience a decline in mental health. By understanding how to recognize signs of burnout and stress, how to model wellness and how to have empathetic conversations, leaders can support their employees during any difficult time.
Learning content can help your managers:
- Normalize mental health throughout your entire organization. The most important thing that managers can do for employees is to create an environment for psychological safety. What does that mean? It means that employees who may need to speak about difficult topics, like mental health and wellness, feel comfortable doing so. To measure the psychological safety of your team, try this publicly available survey today.
- Facilitate social interactions. Connections at work can go a long way to mitigating feelings of loneliness, isolation and stress. The pandemic changed who we see on a daily basis, stripping away many in-person interactions with coworkers. With many workers still operating remotely, it can be harder to have these social interactions, but managers can work to make sure team members are still connecting with their colleagues across the company.
- Identify signs of burnout in team members. Stress is inevitable at work. And while stress can sometimes help focus your energy, other times it can feel like you’re barely keeping your head above water. Unaddressed burnout can affect performance, morale and willingness to help others. Keep an eye out for people taking lots of sick days, drops in productivity or lots of people quitting. Learn how to talk to your team and give them the chance to raise any concerns at an early stage, before burnout takes over.
Providing Learning Content as a Wellness Resource for Employees
Content can also provide wellness tips directly to employees, giving them tools to manage stress and boost mindfulness that they can bring to the workday. Everyone feels emotions at work — and that’s OK! Content can help your employees process those emotions, gain self-awareness and understand when they may need to ask for help.
Learning content can help your employees:
- Understand what triggers stress. The body has a physical response to stressful situations that can make it difficult to solve problems, make decisions and react rationally. To recognize trends about how you feel in intense moments, do a body scan to evaluate how you’re physically reacting. Then try to describe exactly how you’re feeling and what you’re thinking.
- Create the space to recharge. Mental health isn’t static — it’s something experienced on a continuum. And employees should take time to recharge when they slip toward one end of the spectrum. From scheduling screen breaks to taking walks, there are plenty of ways to build space into daily work routines.
- Take advantage of mental health days. Sometimes, recharging might take more than a quick walk or a screen break. It’s okay if you need a day away from work to get up and running again. And remember: The Americans With Disabilities Act prohibits workplace discrimination on the basis of disability, including many mental health conditions like depression, anxiety and ADHD. Employees with a mental health condition have the right to reasonable accommodations to help them perform their essential job functions.
Turning Uncertainty into Understanding with Content
In a recent webinar, we participated in together, Liggy Webb, the award-winning author and expert on human resilience, talked about how our current environment can feel like the military acronym VUCA, standing for “volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous.” That probably sounds familiar to a lot of people right now. But as Liggy pointed out, there’s are counterparts to consider: vision, understanding, clarity and agility.
Content can help bring this transition to life. With the resources to understand and address wellness in the workplace, think about what this might look like for employers with stressed-out employees: Being curious about employee needs. Knowing which resources can help. Clearly communicating to help avoid information anxiety. Having a fast response that adapts to new information. This can all help navigate stressful challenges in the most positive ways possible.