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The impact of COVID-19 on employee emotional wellbeing

  28th April 2020       Private: Bond Williams
 Accounting & Finance, Client, Company News, Engineering, Science & Space, Employment, Executive Search, Human Resources, IT & Software Solutions, Office & Commercial, Recruitment, Uncategorised

The words ‘emotion’ and ‘business’ are rarely used in the same sentence, but they should be, and whether we like it or not, the Covid-19 pandemic has put wellbeing and emotion right at the top of the corporate agenda.

At Rising Vibe, we use emotion to drive cultural change in the corporate world.

Some of our clients get it immediately. They understand that if their employees don’t feel good at work, they aren’t as productive. They don’t share ideas or feel good about collaborating. They don’t fulfill their true potential. And as a result, business suffers.

With other clients, emotion and the wellbeing of their staff is way down on their list of priorities. As long as people are coming in and ‘getting on with the job’, they can leave their feelings at the door.

Some businesses are great with this stuff. Some really aren’t.

There’s a lot of social pain out there at the moment. People are feeling isolated. Excluded. Rejected. Jobs are changing radically and many are hanging in the balance. We no longer feel safe. As people settle into the ‘new normal’ of working from home, business leaders that hadn’t engaged in any wellbeing conversations prior to the pandemic, are now being forced to. Many leaders simply aren’t equipped to do this.

So, what can we do? As business leaders, peers, family members and as friends?

We can focus on our internal world and the external world.

Internally, when we’re feeling low, we don’t always show up in a helpful way. I’m seeing a lot of fear and anxiety as well as blame. This is of course, completely understandable. But blaming other people for getting it wrong isn’t helpful. We must take responsibility for how we’re feeling, without blame.

Externally, check in with your team, friends and family. Remain accessible. People need to know what’s going on. If there’s bad news, tell them. When we don’t have the whole story, our psychological safety is compromised.

Right now, most people are in survival mode and have no idea how they’re going to pay their mortgage or feed their kids. Ask them what they need, even if a situation seems dire. When our basic needs for survival are compromised, promises of ‘support’ won’t feel like they have any impact or meaning. But it is so important that we continue to offer it. When all this is over, it will matter to people that you were there for them. Checking in shows you care and you want to understand what they’re going through. It reassures people that they’re important to you and to the business. Checking in builds trust and loyalty in the long term.

Furthermore, leaders in business need to be honest about how they’re feeling themselves. Putting on a brave face and filling conversations with fake positivity aren’t going to help here. People need to know that we’re all in this together. So be real. Role model that it’s ok not to be ok. The current situation is unprecedented and nobody is really sure that they’re ‘doing things right.’ But as long as you feel you’re doing the best you can, then that’s good enough.

It’s also important to check in on any low emotions that might be hanging around, directed at the leader or business in general. Does something feel a bit ‘off’? Call it. At times like these, it’s easy to ignore or avoid something if it means having to have another difficult conversation. But it’s crucial that these issues are addressed now, so that they don’t cause bigger problems later on.

The majority of leaders who are finding these conversations uncomfortable are simply just lacking confidence. To admit this as a leader is extremely tough. It elicits feelings of shame and fear. On the flip side, talking to our boss about our feelings is scary. Will we be judged as weak or incompetent and unable to do our job? Are we dispensable at a business-critical time?

There is fear on both sides. So where do we start? How do we begin to have the conversations that really matter right now?

Start with the Rising Vibrational Scale

The RV scale is our diagnostic and ongoing measurement tool that helps us get to grips with how people are really feeling at work. It gives people a framework to talk about their emotions, but in a dissociated way. Instead of saying “I feel anxious and afraid,” they can say, “At this point in time I’m at number 21.”

Creating that slight distance between ourselves and our feelings can help us acknowledge and move through them. But the scale isn’t a quick fix. Changing our ingrained patterns of thinking takes time, focus and commitment. When the scale is used regularly within a business as a way of ‘checking in’ with people, over time we see the depth of conversation change. People start to feel safe so they open up. They feel heard. They realise it’s ok to be real.

Using the Rising Vibrational Scale, we can help people access the thoughts that are driving the feelings, so that they can make a small shift towards feeling better.

As business leaders, as much as we’d like to, we can’t make anyone feel better. We can’t stop someone being angry, depressed or anxious. In these times of crisis, all we can do is look to ourselves. Leaders are human too, with the same fears and anxieties. So, ask yourself, what can I do to feel better right now? If we’re managing our own behaviour, we’re much more likely to be able to offer the best support and guidance to others.

Here are 4 tangible steps to feeling better.

  1. Acknowledge how you’re really feeling.

Anxiety? Shame? Despair? Guilt? Be honest with yourself and be honest with others.

  1. Look at the thoughts that are driving these feelings.

E.g. ‘Could I have done more?’ ‘Does my team resent me?’ ‘Could I have been more prepared?’

  1. Challenge the thoughts with concrete evidence.

Get the facts. What evidence do you actually have, to prove these thoughts are true?

  1. Make a slight shift in your perspective.

‘I believe I’ve done the best I can.’ ‘I’m learning a lot in a situation I could never have predicted.’ ‘I can only control how I’m feeling and behaving.’ ‘I’ll keep checking in.’

Unfortunately, we have no control over the external world and what happens next with Covid-19. All we can control is our internal world. With focus, time and commitment, we can challenge the thoughts that are driving the feelings so that we can make a small shift and find relief. We are unlikely to feel totally positive, but just feeling slightly better than we did before is progress.

Most importantly, if we’re able to gain control over our own emotional state, we are much more able to help, challenge and support others in these unprecedented times.

Click here to find out how we can help your business find relief right now and navigate the Covid-19 pandemic on our dedicated support page.

Lou Banks

 

 

Author: Lou Banks, CEO, Rising Vibe

As culture consultants, Rising Vibe supports its clients to define or redefine the culture they want to promote in their business in an explicit way, so that the workforce knows exactly what is expected. They use emotion-based tools, methods and frameworks to help clients bring about the changes needed to create and retain a workforce primed for success.

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Private: Bond Williams

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