Coronavirus & Anxiety: How to Help Employees Cope

focused employees

Coronavirus anxiety is plaguing people around the world. While we wait for this crisis to end, we’re all concerned about the future. How will the economy recover? When will we get to see our friends again?

As an HR manager or employer, it’s your job to provide employees with resources and do your best to keep them sane and happy. Not only does this improve their productivity, but it’s ethical as well.

A stressful work environment during COVID-19 induced anxiety can be detrimental to employees’ mental health.

In this post, we’re exploring ways that you can help your team cope.

Identify at-risk individuals

You need to have a system in place for identifying at-risk individuals within your company.

If you don’t already have a mental health therapist on staff, you can utilize Inuka’s wellness checks or find another provider to check in with your staff. You want to discover who needs to be referred to a mental healthcare provider for more in-depth treatment, who needs additional coaching, and who doesn’t need services at this time.

Help them let go of what they can’t control

If you’re in a managerial position, you can help your team release what they can’t control. Our Inuka coaches do this in working sessions often. We have a simple trick for helping employees realize what they can’t control. When they identify a problem, we ask “Do you have control over this issue?” We don’t tell them that can’t control the economy, we simply ask them if they have control over whatever they’ve mentioned. This helps them realize it for themselves.

During a team or one-on-one meeting, if you notice employees concerning themselves too much with external problems, you can ask this simple question to help them release the issue. And of course, you can offer on-demand virtual coaching so that our trained Inuka coaches can help with this.

Kickstart creative problem solving

With so much negative news afloat, it’s easy for people to feel sluggish and unmotivated at work. This leads to greater levels of anxiety as the work piles up due to lack of productivity.

Help your team kickstart their creative juices by brainstorming together during team meetings. You can brainstorm creative ideas for some or all of the following:

  • How to innovate virtual events beyond basic Zoom rooms
  • How to reduce bottlenecks caused by suddenly going remote
  • Ways to increase company revenue by offering products and services that are more aligned with what’s currently happening in the world
  • How to help customers with issues they might be facing right now
  • Ways that the company can give back

By doing this monthly, you’ll infuse positive energy into your remote work culture and help remind employees that there’s plenty they can be doing right now to create a real impact. Reducing the feeling of loss of control will help everyone enormously.

Provide access to on-demand mental health coaching

When using a proven method, virtual mental health coaching can help employees immediately regain control over their actions and emotions.

The Inuka Method, which we offer in remote sessions, takes people through the following practical Problem Solving process:

  • Identify how they’re feeling and the core issue they’re experiencing
  • Determine any causes for that issue
  • Brainstorm ideas of how they can solve the problem
  • Decide on which idea they will implement in the next week

The process is simple but enormously powerful. It unblocks people and helps them take small actions towards feeling better.

You can learn more about offering this remote service to your team at

Encourage work schedule regularity

Coronavirus anxiety is reportedly made worse by the lack of structure and regularity in normal life. The world feels very tenuous right now.

When everyone came into the office, you could visually track that people were working normal business hours. Now, it’s hard to tell. Allowing employees to work randomly can actually increase their anxiety because work and personal life bleed into each other too much. Remote workers perform at their best and experience the highest levels of mental health when they follow a routine.

Unless employees need to work evenings and weekends because they’re homeschooling their children, they should be encouraged to stick to a normal schedule and be available during Slack or whatever communication channels you use.

Help teams to create new structures that work

Even if your Monday to Friday schedule will stay the same to improve performance and curtail anxiety, there are surely some structures that have to change.

These structures could be:

  • Meeting times and agendas
  • Workflows and processes
  • Team organization

Make sure to reassess the way that everyone is working, what processes they’re using, how frequently they’re meeting, etc. Survey your team to find inefficiencies and issues. Then resolve these so that the structure of work isn’t adding undue stress.

Schedule optional virtual meetings for team building and socialization

Since you can’t talk during lunch or coffee breaks, you’re probably taking a few extra minutes to chat and catch up before your virtual meetings. That’s great. It’s important to stay connected as a team and hear how everyone is doing.

However, there’s work to be done. And inevitably, after five to fifteen minutes of chatting, it’s time to get down to business and cover the purpose of the meeting.

So why not schedule special remote events so your team members can hang out as long as they want without having to turn the conversation towards work?

You can make the meetings either mandatory or optional depending on the time of day you choose, the size of your company, and other factors.

Here are some ideas for remote team building activities:

  • Group calls to talk about anything under the sun
  • Working out together
  • Doing yoga together
  • Going through guided meditations together
  • Playing face-to-face games together with an app like Houseparty
  • Playing video games together
  • Having drawing and coloring sessions together (especially for employees with kids at home)

Take some time to brainstorm what ideas will fit your company the best, and offer at least one team-building activity each and every week.

Assign accountability partners

Your employees likely have a manager that they report to. They also have colleagues with whom they can get help with at any time. But do they have accountability partners that they can talk to about their lives and personal goals?

Inuka coaches work like accountability partners because, at the start of each meeting, we check in to see if the client did the activity they said they would previously (the idea they brainstormed during problem-solving therapy).

Even when using trained mental health coaches, your team can still benefit from using the buddy system for accountability.

Pair people together or ask your team to pair up with someone. Then check to make sure everyone has a partner and make groups of three if needed.

Ask accountability partners to meet up once a week for thirty minutes to check in with each other.

The meeting should go something like this. Each person describes what they want to solve in their life (whether work-related or something personal, such as waking up earlier or exercising more). They say what they will do to tackle that issue. The accountability buddy asks them to nail down something specific, like exercising three times in the next week. Then at the start of the next meeting, the partners ask each other if they did that thing and set goals for the following week.

Not everyone at your company has equal levels of support in terms of spouses, parents, etc. By setting up an accountability system, you make sure that everyone has a positive resource for making changes in their life. By taking control and making an effort, anxiety levels will naturally drop.

Provide resources for those with kids at home

It’s a fact: people with children are experiencing far higher levels of stress than those without. That’s because parents have to school their children while working, and they also have to deal with children’s stress and emotions of having their lives changed and missing their school friends.

Consider what special resources you can provide to employees who are parents:

  • Credits for online classes with Outschool
  • Free subscriptions to educational apps like ABCMouse
  • Purchasing Chrome books or other affordable laptops for school-aged children
  • Allowing parents to reduce working hours by 20%

Every company will have a different budget and approach for helping parents during this difficult time. By offering some level of additional support, you can reduce parents’ stress and anxiety while improving company culture, which has many long-term benefits.

Visit our homepage to learn more about how you can offer Inuka coaching to your employees.

Published with StoryChief

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