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The pandemic has shaped how HR pros, employees and organisations have handle workplace commitments this year – be they office based or as part of a WFH arrangement.

Regardless of how we’ve kept things ticking over, for many of us the mental health impact has been considerable. Here’s a list of advice and tips from the World Health Organisation (WHO) for people managers on how to protect your team’s – and your own – mental health.

Tips for people managers

#1 Protect employees from long-term stress
Stress is one of the most common mental ailments in the workplace, especially in the current situation. Be mindful that the pandemic will not go away overnight and focus on a longer-term response for your team rather than repeated short-term crisis responses.

#2 Communicate regular accurate and updates
Anyone who has watched mainstream media recently will realise how damaging it is when leaders spread misinformation. Ensure timely communication and accurate information updates are provided to all employees.

#3 Be proactive in managing wellbeing of employees 
Rotate workers from higher-stress to lower-stress functions. Partner inexperienced workers with their more experienced colleagues – a buddy system will help to provide support, monitor stress and reinforce safety procedures.

Initiate, encourage and monitor work breaks. Put in place flexible schedules for workers who are directly impacted or have a family member affected by a stressful event. Try to build in time for colleagues to provide social support to each other.

#4 Provide employees access to support services 
HR managers are facing similar stresses to their staff and may experience additional pressure relating to the responsibilities of their role. It is important to have provisions and strategies in place for both employees and managers and that managers can be role-models for self-care strategies to mitigate stress.

#5 Don’t single out different nationalities
COVID-19 has affected people from many countries, in many geographical locations. When referring to people with COVID-19, do not attach the disease to any particular ethnicity or nationality. Be empathetic to all those who are affected, in and from any country.

#6 It’s not about victims
Do not refer to people with the disease as “COVID-19 cases”, “victims” “COVID-19 families” or “the diseased”. It is important to separate a person from having an identity defined by the virus, to reduce stigma.

#7 Don’t stay glued to the news
Minimise watching, reading or listening to news about the pandemic that causes you – or your team – to feel anxious or distressed. Seek information only from trusted sources and mainly so that you can take practical steps to protect those around you.

#8 Protect yourself and be supportive to others
Assisting others in their time of need can benefit both the person receiving support and the rendering assistance.

#9 Look for the positive
Find opportunities to amplify positive and hopeful stories and positive images of local people who have experienced COVID-19, for example, stories of people who have recovered and gotten on with their lives.

#10 Honour carers and healthcare workers
Respect and praise those who are supporting people affected with COVID-19 in your community. Acknowledge the personal risk they are taking and the indispensible role they play in saving lives.  

Want to know more about protecting your own mental wellbeing and that of your team? Check out the upcoming Managing Mental Health in the Workplace, an expert-led interactive series for HR.