In January, Hannah Wolfson, Editor at Home Care Magazine, asked me to write an article on how to handle employee burnout and managing stress. As an HR professional, this topic has been top of mind since March 2020 as I help my clients navigate the new world of (remote) work. Sadly the topic of stress resonated very close to my heart as we learn to live after the tragic loss of our 16-year old son Luke to a rare form of cancer.
Many have asked what they can do to help so we have set up a non-profit foundation named “Luke’s Legacy.” The Foundation is dedicated to honoring Luke’s memory and his wish to support youth athletics (he was a competitive cross-country and track runner), and research on rare cancers. If you would like to contribute, please contact me for instructions on how to make a contribution.
Though not everyone has suffered the loss of a loved one, many are feeling the stress of the unknown during the pandemic year (e.g. vacation plans, work events, and other plans canceled due to the pandemic.) In home-care, that pressure has been compounded. In an industry where burnout was already high and staff retention low, there is a whole new level of stress.
You can read the full article here. Below are the highlights of what you can do to help employees manage their stress and your own. Although the article is focused on home care, many of the lessons are applicable to any organization.
Here are 6 ways to help manage employee stress:
1. Take care of yourself first
On an airplane, the emergency message always says to put your own oxygen mask on before assisting others. The same is true for workplace stress. It’s important to be aware of your own feelings and to be aware of what we can do to feel better.
2. See how that translates into your workspace
The environment you work in is very important. Fluorescent lighting, for example, can be awful for the eyes and for the soul.
3. Clarify expectations
For employees working remotely, make sure they know when they’re expected to be working.
4. Provide physical breaks
Beyond an official mental health day, make sure your employees know they can take the time to step away from work when necessary.
5. Communicate—but not too much
In the early days of the pandemic, a lot was made of the need to share with employees about the disease and the PPE, but they understand that now. You can also pick up the phone every so often and have a personal chat. You can also have a personalized check-in. Those individual touchpoints make a difference.
6. Express gratitude
I have a client, a home-care agency in Colorado, that filmed personalized video messages for their caregivers. The message was very simple and unique to each caregiver. The caregivers were floored the office took the time to send a special message to them.