As we gradually ease our way out of lockdown, it’s important to support all your employees on their return to normality. Over the last year, the pandemic was a sudden shock and our working lives completely shifted, which has been a struggle for a lot of people.
Poor mental health comes in different forms, so it’s important to support your employees with any worries or concerns they have. Recent Bupa UK research revealed that only 14% of those surveyed would reveal mental health conditions to managers, with a third (30%) telling no-one, either.
One feeling that has been shared by many recently is a general sense of emptiness and restlessness, referred to as ‘languishing’. First coined in 2002 by sociologist Corey Keyes, languishing can also cause symptoms of burnout, no motivation, and a feeling of numbness. Whilst these symptoms may not be a mental health condition, languishing can increase your risk of a mental illness developing.
Fortunately, there are a few ways to support your languishing employees as we return to normality. Nourishing good wellbeing allows your team to flourish; it’s especially important to look out for each other, especially as lockdown comes to an end. Here Naomi Humber, Head of Mental Wellbeing at Bupa UK shares her advice for helping your employees overcome these feelings.
Encourage your team to take time-off
As a manager, you’re responsible for looking out for your team’s health, both mentally and physically. Sometimes the demands of work can get too much for your employees, resulting in feelings of exhaustion.
It’s vital that your team have regular time-off throughout the year, so make sure you encourage them to take their leave. It’s also important that your team follow fixed working hours where possible so they can have a work-life balance ‘ another key element of good wellbeing. If you offer flexible working, agree with each of your team their core hours, and let them know that you expect them to log off completely outside of these hours.
You also need to be aware of how your behaviour as a manager affects your team. For every hour you spend visibly working over the weekend or outside normal hours, your team are likely to put in an extra twenty minutes. So, make sure you’re setting your own boundaries too, and taking regular time-off away from work to protect your own wellbeing, as well as your team’s.
Prioritise regular check-ins
Keeping in regular contact with colleagues can have a positive impact on their overall wellbeing, especially if they’re struggling with languishing. Make sure you set aside time for regular check-ins with each of your team. It’s important to ask your colleagues how they are and make sure their workload is manageable for them. Catching up regularly should help you spot any signs your team might be struggling with their health.
While it’s important to keep in frequent contact with your team, recent evidence has suggested that video conferences can be much more tiring than normal meetings. Increased fatigue might leave your team feeling de-motivated and restless, both of which are signs of languishing.
Instead, try doing your one to one meetings over the phone, and suggest you both go for a walk while you talk. It’s a great way to break up the working day for both yourself and your team members.
Listen, but don’t judge
Having a supportive team at work is vital to preventing languishing, especially when your employees are opening-up about any worries they have. When you’re trying to be there for your colleague, it’s important to maintain a positive attitude and open mind to truly be supportive.
Adopting an accepting attitude means respecting the person’s feelings and experiences as valid. Avoid interrupting them as they open-up, and instead use phrases like ‘I see’ and ‘I understand’. Positive body language can show the person that you’re listening and truly care, too.
Lead by example
It’s more important than ever to prioritise your health, both mentally and physically. Your team will look to you for guidance and reassurance, so make sure you’re leading by example.
If you’re feeling overexerted or experience signs of languishing, it’s important to prioritise your mental health. Fortunately, there are some actionable ways to overcome languishing, which will also set a good example for your team members.
Firstly, set aside time every day to focus on something you enjoy, like gardening, reading or exercise. Block this time out in your working schedule and encourage your colleagues to do the same.
Clear wellbeing support
If you have wellbeing support available through your business, share this information with your team regularly. Be clear on how to get in touch with these services, and reiterate that you’re here to support them, too.
Don’t worry if you don’t have these services available, just be clear on what support there is and where they can seek help if they need to. There are free resources available on Bupa’s mental health hub.