NOVEMBER 2020 INDUSTRY UPDATE

When it comes to employee wellness, we do not have to go far to find someone who is experiencing a decrease in their mental health since the pandemic began. We are not alone in our struggle. The World Health Organization’s (WHO) recent survey of 130 countries states that in 93% of countries worldwide, since the pandemic began the demand for mental health is increasing and yet access and underfunding of mental health supports is lagging or has been disrupted. Isolation, loss of income, uncertainty, bereavement, anxiety, and fear are ongoing contributing factors to declining mental and emotional health around the world. Combined with an increase in the disruption of services and add the lack of safe in person social interactions and we have a recipe for a big, worldwide mental health problem with possible long-term impacts.

Workplace Health and Why it is Important

One of Bell Let’s Talk 4 main initiatives is workplace health. Their website states that 1 in 3 workplace disability claims in Canada is related to mental illness. We wrote about how the lack of social interaction is negatively impacting our workplaces in a previous post found here. In that article we referenced a Hays Canada Survey that reports an astounding 49% of employees looking to change jobs citing reduced social interaction, increased workloads, and lack of mental health supports. Almost half of employees are looking to quit despite the global uncertainty.

What We Should Learn From Previous Prolonged Outbreaks

Studies on previous pandemics such as the SARS global outbreak of 2003 can teach us something. This meta review affirms that quarantine has a wide-ranging psychological impact. Based on this meta review and also how pandemic isolation can alter brain chemistry we should not be surprised that prolonged periods of distress impact the mental well-being and health in our workplaces. LinkedIn’s latest Workforce Confidence Index from November 2nd – 15th indicates that employees are spending less time travelling, taking less time off and spending more time at their job, more time caring for children or elderly family members, and also, more time searching for their next job.

Raised stress and isolation over long periods of times has direct impacts on employees looking for a job elsewhere if their workplaces/leaders don’t care for their mental health.

Employee Wellness Matters

Employee well-being should matter not only because of the impact well-being has on our workplace engagement and culture as we wrote about in a previous post, but also on the company bottom line. According to the Hays Canada Survey, 54% of employers admit they aren’t doing anything to assist employees with their wellness. It is understandable as employers have not have it easy in 2020, and are battling themselves through a global downturn. Tough choices have been made in many cases to downsize, and efforts and spending in training and wellness are on the back burner for many organizations. And yet, we cannot afford to ignore the alarmingly high 49% of employees that are looking for a new workplace where their wellness matters. That is a cost that needs to be considered.


RELATED: Workplace Burnout, Engagement and Culture | Strong Workplace Relationships in a Virtual Team


So What Do We Need To Do to Strategically Care For The Mental Health of Employees?

Below are 8 strategies from the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety website to encourage positive mental health.

  1. Encourage active employee participation and decision making
  2. Clearly define employees’ duties and responsibilities
  3. Promote work-life balance
  4. Encourage respectful and non-derogatory behaviours
  5. Manage workloads
  6. Allow continuous learning
  7. Have conflict resolution practices in place
  8. Recognize employees’ contributions effectively

Another list, this one from Ranstad for managers tips to build a mentally healthy workplace fostering open dialogue about mental health states

  • developing a ‘toolbox’ of resources and let employees know the supports available
  • have a mental health ambassador who has additional training to be a point of reference
  • Zero-tolerance for harassment and discrimination
  • Provide ways to connect and socialize
  • Promote work-life balance. If needed encourage employees to set boundaries

Our wellness problem currently has 49% of the workforce in Canada looking to find a way into other work environments that promote employee health. It is going to be a cost to us either way – if we invest in well-being now, or if we pay for it later in the turnover of our employees. 

There is a lot on those lists, and it would be easy to get overwhelmed and therefore potentially not change anything. I would like to propose a couple of ideas as a way to address a few points on those lists and keep the ‘where do I start?’ action steps manageable. 

How Professional Training Workshops and Team Building Play a Role

Connection, socialization, and tools to foster positive working relationships, well-being, and resilience are one part to nurturing an environment that employees want to stay with. Here at Summit, we know how critical it is to invest in positive team relationships. We believe it really is the foundation to any high-performance team. How we provide and nurture relationships may have changed, is changing, and will continue to evolve, but relationships are foundational to be able to have open and honest dialogue with our teams about mental health.

There are so many moving parts to how we have been handling the pandemic. In a previous post we wrote about Stephen Covey’s Circle of Control and Influence Model. There is much we have little or no control over and if we choose to focus on what we can’t control, it has negative effects. However, if we choose to spend our energy on goals and action-steps we do have some influence over, we are at choice.


FREE EVENT: Take away some ideas on how to keep your teams motivated, connected and engaged. Register for our Showcase Virtual Preview Event


How We Can Help

Even though 2020 has become largely online, we can choose to invest in virtual training workshops with our teams such as High Performance Teamwork and Emotional Intelligence to develop our team relationships and teamwork or we could actively participate in a high energy team building program such as Play it Forward to have some fun together. 

This year has been hard in many ways and people are fatigued and are yearning to connect.   Invest in your employee’s wellness, your team connectedness, and your team relationships. It has benefits now in wellness that contributes to higher engagement. It also might just mean that your organization is one where people want to stay.

Please contact us to strategize how we can facilitate the development of employee wellness in your team and organization.