Supporting the Mental Health of Your Employees During COVID-19

Sharon Mak Career Tips, HR & Recruiting Advice, Management Best Practices, Workplace Facts Leave a Comment

Since COVID-19 began, everyone’s working lives have changed, and while we adjust to this new normal, it’s also important to remember that employees may experience anxiety, stress, and concern related to the outbreak. We all know the importance of physical fitness and how it keeps us healthy and happy throughout our lives – the same goes for mental fitness. Taking steps to promote your employees’ mental wellness enhances their ability to cope with ups and downs, improving productivity at work, and overall well-being. Furthermore, supporting employees during this difficult time can be key to building a level of trust. Frank Cantafio, a registered clinical social worker and Manager of the Employee Assistance Centre at Manitoba Blue Cross, explains “The more organizations support their people – the more organizations thrive because fundamentally, organizations are their people.”

Especially during times of uncertainty, it is important to promote positive mental health within your organization. Here are some tips leaders can use to create a mentally healthy workplace:

1) Stay socially connected

Encourage your employees to stay connected with co-workers, friends, and family via video chatting, email, instant messaging, and phone. During difficult times, we work better when we know we are not alone, and when there is support from loved ones. As much as we have been encouraged to maintain physical distance from others, it does not mean we should cut ourselves off emotionally.

2) Promote self-care

Encourage your employees to take regular breaks while working from home, such as taking a quick walk around the block, or suggest a weekly virtual team yoga or meditation session.

3) Say thank you

Express your gratitude to your employees. Thanking them for their work can go a long way, and if your company has the resources, you could send a digital gift card, or other small tokens of appreciation to let your team know – even now – and especially now – that they are valued.

4) Keep perspective

Remind employees that this is a temporary period of physical distancing and isolation and their efforts are helping the greater community. It is okay that some things are outside our control and it’s okay to feel anxious or uncomfortable about the uncertainty.

5) Keep an open dialogue

Be understanding and encourage kindness and patience. Cantafio explains, “Leaders need to develop communication channels through regular meetings and updates about things that are developing in the organization because – in absence of information – gossip flourishes. But when employees have access to leaders (formally and informally), it creates employee engagement, which is very vital during this time.” Make time to support your employees’ pressing needs and concerns; we are all adjusting to this new normal and each person reacts differently. Encourage leaders and employees alike to practice staying emotionally present for one another.

6) Provide resources

Does your organization have an Employee Assistance Program (EAP)? Encourage your employees that the EAP is there if they need support and explain how they can access the services.

As organizations transition significant portions of their workforce to remote work, it’s never been more important for managers to listen to their people, address what they’re hearing, and to adapt their leadership style. Managers play a crucial role in helping employees feel psychologically safe while working. Without timely listening and support during times of uncertainty, employee engagement will plummet, which can quickly impact many aspects of an organization – from workplace culture to long-term business outcomes.

Manitoba Blue Cross is Manitoba’s leading benefits provider for over 40 years that provides health, dental, employee assistance, life, disability, and travel coverage for over half a million Manitobans.

For more free COVID-19 support resources, developed by Manitoba Blue Cross counsellors, EAP, and Disability Case Management teams, please visit:

Share this Post

Leave a Comment