Taking care of your team’s psychological wellbeing
An April survey by Relationships Australia found that up to 98% of respondents across every industry reported ‘significant changes’ to their work since the pandemic began. 63% of these respondents also experienced changes to their mental health in response to changes in their work life.
These changes included working from home, operating within new safety procedures on-site or working in an industry with extraordinary health and safety challenges like healthcare. In these circumstances, managing workplace-related psychological wellbeing can become a top priority.
When Australia Post committed to keeping most of its Post Offices, parcel facilities and delivery network operational during COVID-19, it moved quickly to allay its people’s health and safety concerns. Australia Post’s National Health and Wellbeing Manager, Fiona Andrew, says her team developed a psychological safety plan that was agile enough to pivot based on updates to national safety regulations.
Key elements of this plan included promoting the Employee/Workforce Assistance Program (EAP/WAP), developing resources to guide leaders in supporting their teams, and distributing messages of empathy, support and appreciation from frontline leaders in Australia Post’s delivery and contact centre networks.
“Our EAP/WAP has been a wonderful source of support for our workforce during this time. Many of us have reached out to this service in the last few months to manage COVID-related anxiety.”
“Our EAP/WAP provider also created a new manager-referred support program which provides weekly outbound call support to employees working from home, for whom the home environment may not be comfortable, social or safe.”
Giving space to the positive
A key part of every recovery process may be letting go of the past and focusing on the steps that will move you forward. This usually requires a mindset shift that often includes adopting a new perspective. And this, Patrice says, can spark fresh ideas.
“I’ve been part of many conversations around how so much innovation will come out of this pandemic. We’re already seeing so many business pivoting and people going into business for the first time. When thinking about COVID-19, we tend to think only about the negative impact. Giving some space to the positive can be refreshing.”
Beyond Blue’s guide to better mental health for small business owners
- Prioritise exercise, sleep and good meals. Enough movement, rest and nutritious food can do wonders for your mental health and wellbeing.
- Take time for self-care practices. Mindfulness is one practice that is gaining more credibility now. It can help you focus on the present and reduce any stress or anxiety over thoughts about the future. Choose a mindfulness app and make it a 5-minute habit every day.
- Focus on what’s going well in your business. Keep the changes that are having positive impacts especially where it involves communication and connection.
- Involve your team in developing a mental health toolkit so you understand what they need. This will also help remind you that you’re not alone in facing these challenges.
- Ask for support. Tap into your personal and professional support networks and resources. Beyond Blue has a Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service, which provides updated information, advice and strategies. It also offers 24/7 access to trained counsellors and a dedicated online community forum on coping during the coronavirus.
Need help building your mental health toolkit? Beyond Blue can help you get started with the following resources:
Mental health plan/toolkit for small business owners
Mental health plan/toolkit for your workplace
Actions for small business owners to improve their mental health and wellbeing
Supporting small business owners to improve their mental health and wellbeing at work