5 Tips and 5 Questions: Helping Employees with Stress

by Apr 16, 2020

This is the week we’re hearing our clients’ employees cry out. The stress of the current situation and the need to wear so many hats at all times is breaking some. Others are already there.

Work, homeschooling, meals, groceries, and household stuff are pulling them in every direction. Yet we’re all expected to go back to normal when “at work.”

And you’re also stretched and stressed out as the boss, supervisor or business owner. Adding to the pressure, you know that how you respond right now will leave lasting impressions on your employees.

To make things a little easier on you, here are 5 tips for conversations with employees about their stress:

  1. Make time to listen, and video calls are best. In times of stress we need connection, and you need to see their nonverbal communication to understand how they’re really doing. Have the conversation when you truly have time, not 5 minutes before your next client call.
  2. Be supportive. Let them know you understand, and all you can ask for is their best given the circumstances. Communicating and finding new ways to get things done are the two most important things to focus on right now.
  3. Offer working alternative times to get all things accomplished. Employees may be self-imposing time constraints and therefore making themselves crazy. It’s just not possible to homeschool and work regular hours, period. Maybe a 6am to 6pm day could work, so that employees can work for a chunk of time, clock out and do “home stuff,” and then come back to finish their work later in the day. Getting permission from you to stretch their 8-hour day over 12-hours will go a long way. 
  4. Let employees know of CARES/EFMLA. If employees need to stay home due to caring for a minor child, they are able to take paid time off (2/3 their normal salary). There is also 80 hours of federal sick time (on top of state required sick time) all the information can be found here. 
  5. Have an honest conversation about reducing to part time. The employee could apply for unemployment to make up for some of the wages lost, and you can relax knowing your payroll expenses have reduced. This option works well if it’s an open, collaborative conversation about what’s best for all parties. 

Now, employees may reach out to you, but it’s more likely you will need to reach out to them. They desperately want you to believe they’re holding it together while they’re melting behind the scenes. 

Part of their stress is wondering if you can see them cracking, and if that would result in their name coming up in the impending layoffs. 

Since it’s possible employees won’t be entirely honest with you regarding their stress, we recommend a company-wide pulse survey.

We’ve put together one with 13 questions, and are offering it for $97 – no matter the size of your organization. 

Here are a few examples of what we’re asking our clients’ employees to rate on a four-point scale, from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree.”

  1. I am currently getting all of the information I need to do my job well.
  2. From a technology standpoint, I have everything I need to get my work done.
  3. Leadership has done a good job of keeping people informed about the present and future of our organization.
  4. I am concerned that I am not as productive as I should be.
  5. Given the circumstances, I am satisfied with the amount of social connection I am getting with my peers through our virtual channels.

If you’re interested in a survey for your organization – so that you can get honest answers about how to help your employees – just reply to this email. 

This is new and unchartered for all of us. There are struggles and challenges on both sides, but remember your response and support will carry long after we get back to our “normal” lives. 

Sincerely,

Kendra Wilson
Director of HR Compliance & Awesome

P.S. The survey is just $97, no matter the size of your organization.

About Catherine Mattice Zundel

Catherine Mattice Zundel, MA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP is President of consulting and training firm, Civility Partners, and has been successfully providing programs in workplace bullying and building positive workplaces since 2007. Her clients include Fortune 500’s, the military, several universities and hospitals, government agencies, small businesses and nonprofits. She has published in a variety of trade magazines and has appeared several times on NPR, FOX, NBC, and ABC as an expert, as well as in USA Today, Inc Magazine, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur Magazine, and more. Catherine is Past-President of the Association for Talent Development (ATD), San Diego Chapter and teaches at National University. In his book foreword, Ken Blanchard called her book, BACK OFF! Your Kick-Ass Guide to Ending Bullying at Work, “the most comprehensive and valuable handbook on the topic.” She recently released a second book entitled, SEEKING CIVILITY: How Leaders, Managers and HR Can Create a Workplace Free of Bullying.

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