As we near a full calendar year of a global pandemic, there have been many drastic changes to not only the way we live but how we work. COVID-19 has undoubtedly had a massive impact on the way organisations move forward but it has also had a huge impact on the mental health of workers too. In 2021, it is crucial that companies take responsibility for their employees mental health and provide the correct resources to ensure their team are well supported. With the right support and resources, it is proven that professionals not only perform better in their roles, but interact more thoughtfully and empathetically. 

Mental health should ultimately be all leaders number one priority moving forward and here's 3 ways you can do that (inspired by Stacy Adams from MarketingProfs):

1. Provide tangible mental health resources to workers

Bring a sense of mindfulness to your virtual office. Invest in time, resources and materials that allow your employees to decompress. At Collingwood, we have a bi-weekly mindfulness session with Russell Treasure which allows us to join together as a team and talk about our thoughts and feelings before participating in a guided meditation. This is an example of a resource that allows the team to decompress and think about something other than work and discuss any worries or problems we may have. It is also always important to be available as a leader and understand that you are a mental health resource, so make sure that you're someone who your team trust and can confide in. Providing employees the tools they need to help with an increased workload can avoid burnout and help them be more engaged in the virtual workplace.

2. Invest in workplace mental health training

Almost half (45%) of employees crave training on mental health in the workplace, according to a survey Vyond conducted in 2020. This is likely to remain a large concern with many still working from home and feeling isolated as a result. Training can help outline real world situations and scenarios showing employees how to alleviate and manage their work related stress. Relating back to our mindfulness sessions, having an expert like Russell Treasure gives us the opportunity to learn new techniques of breathing, as well as ways of taking ourselves away from stress. Videos can also be a powerful tool in training, as it provides a visual concept to the ideas and thoughts people may have. 

3. Prioritise ongoing communication

In addition to receiving resources and training, employees can benefit from ongoing, thoughtful communication with their leaders. Leaders should be open and communicative, they should lead with empathy and understand how each person is dealing with their circumstances. Sure, some may be reveling in their new found independence but there will be others who really struggle working from home, with new demands such as childcare and lack of work space. Leaders should allow themselves to be vulnerable and show their team that they are not alone in their thinking. Leaders should take the time to speak with their team on a one-to-one basis to take time away from work and "unplug". When people feel inspired, motivated, and supported in their roles, they do more work, and that work is reportedly less stressful to their overall health and well-being, according to a poll from Gallup.

Mental health and wellness should be at the forefront of internal communications as we continue to work through the pandemic. Opening up the conversation and communicating with empathy can provide the opportunity to not only improve morale and productivity but also provide that sense of connection we need to get by.