How are you? Honestly? Tired? Feeling blah?
From many of my clients — no matter how great their business is going — I’m hearing that 2020 has taken it out of them. They’re exhausted. Some are low. Some are just hanging out for Christmas and time on a sunny beach somewhere.
It’s been a tumultuous year. Even if you’ve come out unscathed, the emotional turmoil that came from lockdown (or lockdowns, plural, if you’re in Auckland or Melbourne) and of holding together a company and worrying about stock, staff and your bottom line can really take a toll. This has not been a year of business as usual and there’s never really been the time for a proper holiday (and certainly not one on a tropical beach overseas!)
First of all, you’re not alone if you feel this way. As the news presenters keep saying, it’s been an “unprecedented year”. Not many will come through unscathed.
Being a caring business owner or senior leader, you’re probably wondering how your staff are feeling, too. If you’re feeling a bit “off” and blah, it makes sense they might be too.
Here’s some ideas I got from talking to a client recently on how they could inject more life and happiness back into their themselves and their team — maybe they’ll help you?
What other ideas do you have or have you tried? I’m keen to hear: firstname.lastname@example.org
- You could blow your staff away by giving them a Covid day off and a cash bonus to spend on the day. Get them to report back what they did with the money.
- Or offer a ‘duvet day’ (duvet day is a mental health day, where you can just stay under your covers, watching TV, reading, chilling, whatever).
- Offer them an ‘unsick day’ – a day where they can be proactive about their health and go and do preventative treatments you never get the time to do like dentist, counselling, eye exams, physios and any other treatment that feels good.
- Get better as a manager at asking about the wellbeing of your staff. Notice them, and ask them, especially where you think someone is struggling. Questions like: You’re not your usual self, is there anything we can do to help? + Please remember that it is ok to ask for help? + How can I help you do your job? + Do you want to talk about it? + It’s difficult for me to understand what you are going through right now but I can see that you are really struggling? + Is everything ok? Also, ask about their family, which can also put pressure on them: How’s your husband coping? How’s the family going this year with the effects of Covid? It’s ok to lose the formality and have a chat with your employees – you’re all human so feel free to act it.
- For one client, we considered changing the lunch break from 1 hour to 30 minutes and instead finishing half an hour earlier so the team could enjoy more sunshine hours at home
- Formally mandate that staff are not required to check emails after-hours. You can if you choose to but there is no expectation on you to do that. Proactively help them to unplug from work.
- Let the team know if they need any external help around mental health or happiness in general, that you will fund their first 3 counselling sessions and possibly fund it at 50% off for the next 7.
- Organise formal chats / presentations / training on mental health. St Johns does a Mental Health First Aid course which teaches you what to look out for in someone and the tools on how to react. Presenters or workshops could cover stress, burnout, imposter syndrome, anxiety etc. By creating a safe space for staff to learn, share experiences and discuss, it is likely to make people more open to sharing what they might be going through…
- Make it clear that Chatham House Rules (ie. confidentiality) exists in your business: people can share what they need to and that anybody in the conversation is 100% expected to treat everything in confidence, full stop. No room for gossip.
- Vulnerability from the top goes a long way… So if people at the top are struggling with mental health, them being open about it can be really powerful for the rest of the team who also will be quite possibly having their own challenges. If a leader goes to any sort of therapy, it can be a great thing to share. Sip and I go to a counsellor and find him extremely helpful for our mental health.
- If a counsellor is too big a step for some, let them know there are a variety of mental health apps that can be helpful, like Joyable.
- To help how you feel, creating a daily routine and sticking to it can be hugely beneficial. It helps you to avoid losing yourself in stress. Routine is scientifically proven to help your mood. Try to fit some kind of exercise into that routine. Exercise is so effective at controlling stress and anxiety – whether it’s a walk around the block or smashing squash balls with a friend. Work-out chemicals (endorphins) are ‘happy’ chemicals that respond to the brain’s pain receptors to help you manage anxiety and stress so even if you don’t feel like you have the capacity to fit exercise in, make it a priority.
What other things are you trying with your team or have you heard of that you like the sound of?