The role of a small or medium business leader is often a pressured one, and the difficult times 2020 has brought only adds to this.
Lockdown in general is taking its toll on mental health, and it’s important to recognise that and take steps to help.
It’s not business as usual at the minute; even if you usually work from home, and you’re still able to. There might be more people around the house in the day now. The kids might be at home as well, and you’re managing their schoolwork, as well as your work. You might not be used to working at home at all, in which case the quiet might seem deafening.
Here’s some things to be mindful of, and some things to help
Talk to people, loneliness is a real thing, avoid it by staying connected to your colleagues, friends, family, peers, network. Human beings are social creatures, we need interaction and now social activities, hobbies and even the good ol’ British pub are out of bounds; recognise this and stay connected the best you can with people. If you have employees stay connected to them as well, not just in a work capacity but a leisure one also, have a chat, have a coffee and a piece of cake, do a quiz.
With your colleagues, your staff members and your family members. An employee with young children might need to work slightly differing hours to normal to make life easier while juggling children at home. It’s important to meet business needs, but it’s also important to meet them in a manageable way. Have the conversation and make a plan. If more than one of you is working from home, you might need to plan that as well, where you’ll work, the turns you’ll take with the children and their schoolwork.
It’s very easy while we’re locked down for work hours to creep longer and longer. If there’s no longer a commute, and the usual evening social activities aren’t there to stop you, work hours can easily start to become longer and longer. Note when you begin work and plan a time to stop…then stop at that time! Be conscious of it, and vigilant – you need to look after yourself as well.
Be an Example
If your hours are creeping longer and longer, it’s likely your team’s hours are too. Let them know the measures your taking to ensure a structure and good balance during lockdown and let them know it’s ok to unplug and have downtime themselves.
If you’re working with less of a workforce workload might need to be adjusted to make it manageable. Manage expectations, be clear and listen to feedback from your team. If the impact of this is too great, you might not have got the furloughed and non-furloughed staff split right – think strategically about who is and isn’t working right now.
The slogan of ‘we’re all in this together’ isn’t quite right. We’re all going through this together, but we’re all going through this in very different ways – be mindful of that. Everyone’s personal situation is different, and that can mean very different things to deal with during this difficult time. Be sensitive to that, and supportive as and where you can be.
Don’t get embroiled with the news, at the minute that’s can be a very negative way to spend your time, and have an equally negative impact on your mental health. Limit yourself to checking the news once a day, or something to that affect.
A problem shared is a problem halved, talk through issues you’re experiencing. These might be work issues, in which case they can be solved by teamwork, or troubleshooting with a colleague. If you’re struggling personally, talking to someone can help.
Yes, this is a difficult situation and the economy is feeling the impact, however we as human beings always push through adversity and come out the other side stronger. Try to be a force of positivity for your team, it’s a tough old time at the minute and sources of positivity are needed.
Meditation is scientifically proven to reduce stress and anxiety. It’s also proven to increase cognitive function and your attention span – there are only positives. A technique I’m fond of for during the workday is called Box Breathing; it can improve performance and concentration when done for a few minutes. Get a free app and take some time for yourself.