It’s a difficult period for employees and employers right now. With infection rates of Covid-19 skyrocketing just after the optimism of late spring, new and returning restrictions have many people feeling like they’re back at square one, pandemic-wise.

This matters to employers. Mental health is a rapidly growing issue for employees, and it’s an issue with multiple concerns for employers. Supporting staff in 2021 goes beyond providing an EAP number or a subscription to a mindfulness app. Human Resources professional may find they need to help leadership provide their employees with optimistic, yet realistic, assistance.

Lead by Example

Leadership can’t just talk up using PTO to avoid burnout. They have to show the way. Set the out-of-office messages — and stick to them! Stay off of apps like Slack, and remember that they give away your online status. No browsing allowed.

Really Talk

“How are you today?” generally has one accepted response: “Good.” Leaders need to dig for honesty with their employees. A monosyllabic answer hints at a deeper truth. Are they comfortable talking about their stress, burnout, and worries with their supervisor? Employees who are used to having real conversations with their leaders are more likely to accept advice on utilizing benefits for mental health.

Listen for Preferences

When the opportunity for face-to-face conversation is limited or non-existent because of Covid protocols, it can be harder to figure out how to have these conversations. Even front-line workers who are showing up for their shifts are less likely to have a real chat with their supervisors when mask-wearing and social distancing factors make conversation tougher. Employees working from home or in limited office capacity are even harder to talk to.

Find out what channels employees are comfortable with, and reach out to them there. Is it texting, or a phone call, or an email? A voicemail for a Millennial who avoids voice calls probably won’t go over well; maybe a text check-in is better for them. Meeting people on their own ground helps show leadership’s respect and genuine interest in their employees’ well-being.

Understand How to Listen and Recommend

Employers don’t expect their leadership to become board-licensed therapists. A manager shouldn’t try to solve mental health issues, although they might be able to provide simple assistance such as recommending a few days off to destress. Instead, managers can help with the work end of things, such as assisting with prioritizing workloads to take the pressure off, and then offer clear examples of company benefits employees can use to get help.

Directing Employees to Mental Health Assistance

Making mental health part of regular check-ins with employees means knowing what assistance is available through benefits, and where employees can find it. Is it easy for your employees to find and access their benefits? If your company is dealing with a hodgepodge of websites and sign-ons, it’s time to streamline. Click here to learn more about WBD’s benefits administration platforms, which provide unprecedented ease of access for employers and employees alike.