How COVID-19 Is Affecting Mental Health in the Workplace

September 24, 2020 by  

Since the pandemic outbreak earlier this year, life looks very different. Every aspect has been subject to change, from daily routines and habits to socializing and work. Understandably, stress and anxiety have been present throughout, from people worrying about their friends, their families, and their own health, through to financial or workplace stresses.

Work is a huge part of our lives, so it is no surprise that working lives have also been put under strain throughout the last six months. A recent survey about burnout in the workplace found that almost half (47%) of American employees are concerned about how the current health crisis will affect their long term health. At least half also said that frustration (50%), stress (51%), and anxiety (53%) at work had got worse throughout the pandemic.
Worse still, are the statistics around how businesses have dealt with the crisis. 37% of the workforce feel their organization isn’t doing enough to support them through the pandemic. Despite reports of employees experiencing depression, fatigue, and exhaustion being at an all-time high, 30% say they feel pressure from management to avoid taking time off.
These symptoms all contribute to employee burnout, which can drastically affect the productivity, satisfaction, and career motivation of employees. Ultimately, this can lead to a business losing staff, resulting in money spent on recruitment and training of new employees. At a time when finances are tighter than ever, employee retention is crucial.

While matters relating to COVID-19 are largely out of employers’ control, businesses need to pay attention to issues within the workplace and offer the right measures to help retain staff throughout the crisis and in the months following.

4 Ways Your Workplace Can Avoid Employee Burnout
As well as looking into the effects of the pandemic on employee burnout, the survey also looked at solutions, asking employees what support they would like to see from their organizations. These are the top 4 ways employers can support their staff through this difficult time:

1. Create a culture that supports work/life balance
We all know how important a work/life balance is when it comes to employee happiness and satisfaction. If you have a workplace largely working from home, maintaining this balance is even more vital.
Flexibility is key when it comes to work/life balance, particularly throughout unprecedented times. You may have some employees who are isolating, some who are looking out for elderly relatives, or some who are facing issues with childcare. Allowing a degree of flexibility means employees can find what works best for them. If possible for your business, this could mean bringing in flexible working hours. If not, it could simply be encouraging employees to use vacation days when they need to.

2. Increase communication and mental health support
Communication is key, especially if you are now dealing with a remote workforce. Managers should schedule in regular catch-ups and one-on-one’s with their team, so any issues can be brought to their attention and tackled before they become a bigger problem.
Mental health support is also a must. Having staff trained in mental health support is a huge bonus, but if this isn’t feasible for your business you should ensure you have resources and information in place and available to staff, so any who are struggling can get the support they need.

3. Provide consistent feedback
Along the same vein as communication, feedback is also a must for making sure colleagues feel valued and that they have a clear direction at work. In a stressful situation such as a pandemic, and particularly if your business is working remotely, it can be easy for employees to feel like they are no longer receiving recognition for their work.
Regular, consistent feedback helps staff understand which areas they are succeeding in and where any improvements need to be made. This helps keep staff feeling valued, engaged with your business, and working towards goals ultimately ensuring they are more committed to their jobs.

4. Help employees with mindfulness techniques
Mindfulness in the workplace can help improve concentration, happiness, focus, and energy levels. If this is something your business is missing, now is the ideal time to begin promoting mindfulness.
Guided meditations and online classes are a great resource to offer employees who are interested in practicing mindfulness techniques. Even simpler still, you should encourage staff to take regular breaks away from their desk and detach completely from work. Even taking a fifteen-minute break to practice breathing exercises or go for a quick walk can leave employees feeling refreshed, relaxed, and refocused.

The current pandemic is undoubtedly affecting workplaces and changing the way we approach work. Ensuring staff retention by working to keep your staff engaged, focused, and happy at work gives your business the best chance to thrive over the coming months.

How to Make Your Message Clear and Powerful

September 1, 2020 by  

Got what you want to say down pat?

Think again!

Here is a surprisingly easy yet effective way to make your message clear and powerful.

One of the hallmarks of studying anything for a long period of time is understanding that you still know a lot less about it than you think. This should always be a happy conclusion. It means that you can basically spend a lifetime pursuing something you love.
Public speaking is like that. So, for that matter, is coaching and training people how to do it well.
For instance, at some point during the last 19 years as a speech coach, I came to a conclusion I couldn’t have anticipated. It has to do with strengthening and solidifying one’s message. Best of all, it is usually my client who discovers exactly how to do so.

First, Prepare for Your Presentation the Right Way
Chances are, though, you won’t travel that road yourself unless you set yourself up for the journey. What I mean by that is, by preparing for your presentation in the right way.
How do most of us prepare? Well, I think the process goes like this: we have some thoughts about a topic, and immediately begin jotting down our ideas. Then we edit and polish our content and perhaps spend a lot of time on our slide deck until we think the material is where it needs to be. Then, maybe, we practice out loud (if we have the time).
The result often is that we are flying blind where the audience is concerned. We invested all our energy in making out content perfect. In the process, we left out two hugely important factors: our audience’s needs and preferences, and our specific purpose in giving the speech.
Best, then, to rearrange the order of things. Your initial effort should always involve an audience analysis. You need to understand your listeners as closely as possible! That may be easy if you will be speaking to your team at a weekly meeting, or much more involved if the listeners will consist of a group you don’t know. From knowing your audience, emerges the purpose for which you’ll be speaking to these people. And here is the payoff: knowing exactly what you are trying to achieve helps you bring in precisely the content that will allow you to achieve that purpose. You have now prepared the right way.

Now Go One Step Beyond That . . . for Greatness!
At this point, it is critically important that you practice your material out loud. You need to hear whether your spoken performance is right for this audience: in terms of language, tone, comprehensibility, and most important: listeners’ level of understanding.
Here is where you may surprise yourself. When I am working with a client and we have videotaped (or these days, screen recorded) a talk, I often ask this question: “What are you really trying to say here?” It is usually easy for the client to respond. But here is the interesting thing: very often, that response will be much clearer, and more in-depth, than what he or she said in the actual presentation. My follow-up question is even easier: “Why don’t you say that?”
It is often in this debriefing exercise, you see, that the speaker reveals the true heart of the message. I suspect that maybe because they are trying to fashion a commendable presentation, rather than tapping into the raw power of what they are trying to say.

So if you are not debriefing with a speech coach, perform some self-discovery. Practice your talk, record it, and then ask yourself: “What am I really trying to say?” I would bet that your response is different in some large or small way than the actual content of your talk. The next step is obvious: Go back into your content, and make your message clearer and more powerful.