Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, workplaces have shifted to a new normal. Most workplaces made the move to remote work, requiring their employees to change gears and work from home. Furthermore, due to the economic damage caused by the pandemic, many have lost their jobs and face uncertainty about their futures.
As a result, mental health concerns have now skyrocketed to an all-time high. A study conducted by NIHCM Foundation reported that the symptoms of anxiety and depression felt in the workplace have tripled and quadrupled from last year. More than 51% of respondents also reported that their mental health has worsened since the pandemic began.
While we collectively navigate through the storm, it is crucial that workplaces acknowledge the mental health crisis. Despite the uncertainty, employers need to invest in their most important asset – their human capital and prioritize their emotional wellbeing. Now more than ever, it is critical that teams unite together and show that they truly care for each other.
The Importance of Emotional Wellbeing
Many often overlook emotional wellbeing and face the consequences without knowing. These consequences include decreased motivation, diminished productivity, low team morale, high stress, and poor work/life balance.
Leaving emotional wellbeing unmanaged can result in further mental health concerns, such as burnout. Burnout is an occupational phenomenon, defined as fatigue from chronic workplace stress that has been left unmanaged. In addition, employee burnout can lead to more issues in the workplace. In Emotional Wellbeing: Solution to Burnout & Turnover, we discuss how turnover and burnout are correlated; if employees are feeling burnt out, they may try to encourage a team member to leave the company with them.
How to Cultivate Emotional Wellbeing at Work
Prioritizing emotional wellbeing will set employees up for success. In these times of uncertainty, it is crucial to think positively and encourage ourselves to be in the right mindset – that we can control our emotions and will overcome our challenges. If we do not take care of our emotional wellbeing, this can snowball into bigger issues, affecting both our personal and professional lives.
Workplaces need to emphasize the importance of emotional wellbeing. It is never too late to begin; employers just need to take the first step; tuning into their emotional intelligence. Below, we have compiled a list of emotional intelligent strategies to begin cultivating emotional wellbeing in the workplace!
Open Up the Conversation
Leaders need to express to their team members that mental health needs to be prioritized, and that it is okay to not be okay. The negative stigma of mental health needs to be minimized; one of the best ways to do so is to lead by example. In Top Three Reasons Why People Don’t Show Emotions at Work, employees may refrain from showing emotions at work because they believe that their emotions are invalid.
Leaders can begin encouraging discussions about emotional wellbeing by incorporating it into their daily work routines. It can be as simple as starting off each meeting with a one word check-in, or sharing a mental health resource via email to help prioritize emotional wellbeing. Leaders need to tear down their walls and allow vulnerability in; sharing both their accomplishments and challenges will encourage team members to do the same.
Once team members begin to express their emotions, leaders need to make sure to actively listen and offer support wherever possible. For example, if a team member is struggling to meet a project deadline and it is impacting their work, offer help by adding flexibility to their deadline or delegate an additional team member to help lessen the workload.
Team Goal Setting
In order to keep the team accountable, set goals collectively as a team. Have a meeting and break the goal down. Brainstorm actionable steps on what team members can do individually to achieve the goal, and what efforts will be done collectively as a team. Keep a record of the goals so that the team is able to track and measure their progress.
For example, let’s say the team goal is to exercise more. Not only can exercise build mental strength and improve emotional wellbeing, but it also gives employees a break from sitting and working in their desk all day. Individually, team members can incorporate at least 15 minutes of mild exercise into their workday. This does not have to be intensive exercise, but can be as simple as stretching or going for a walk around the block. Collectively, the team can conduct a monthly team exercise activity, such as a virtual group yoga session at the end of each month. Keep each other motivated by asking for updates and encouraging each other to track their progress; you can even make a tracker document to keep everyone accountable. Another idea to encourage accountability is to include an incentive; for instance, the company will host a virtual lunch if everyone meets their goal.
Setting emotional wellbeing goals as a team not only keeps everyone accountable, but will keep team members motivated while simultaneously building a meaningful and caring culture.
With the shift to remote work, team members may be feeling disconnected from each other. With quarantine and social distancing rules in place, employees may be feeling alone and isolated. To help cope with this, employers can host team socials to deepen the team’s bond and make time for socializing.
As the team is no longer gathering in the office, the art of in-person interactions has faded. The feeling of isolation is more prominent as employees are now alone in their office, with the boundaries between work/life balance blurred. By hosting team socials, this can lessen the workplace stress, designate time for social interaction, and overall, cultivate a culture of connection. These socials do not have to be extravagant activities, they can even be as simple as setting time to unwind and update each other on their personal lives.
Emotional Wellbeing Begins with Emotional Intelligence
While these are a few ways to cultivate emotional wellbeing at work, we encourage you to think outside the box and share your ideas on how to cultivate emotional wellbeing with us. Tuning into your emotional intelligence is the first step of managing emotional wellbeing; this ranges from becoming aware of your emotions to strengthening your interpersonal relationships. Know that cultivating emotional wellbeing is not something that occurs overnight, but is an ongoing journey that takes time. Do not be afraid to reach out and ask for help; remember, you are never alone!
We acknowledge that the support for managing emotional wellbeing and burnout may be beyond our EQ prevention tactics and encourage you to seek out professional help if needed. If you reside in Canada, here is a list of mental health resources you can reach out to. If you reside in the United States, here is a list of mental health resources you can reach out to.
For more information on how your emotional intelligence competencies can help with managing your emotional wellbeing, check out our blog post, Battling Burnout with Emotional Intelligence. Alternatively, if you are interested in a team activity that can cultivate emotional wellbeing while physically apart, check out our Virtual EQ Retreats, which are tailored to enhance team relationships through identifying individual strengths and areas of improvement.