Creating psychological safety for your employees

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every one of your employees, whether they know someone who has the coronavirus, their kids are homeschooling or they just started working from home.

The effects of the outbreak can create uncertainty that impacts employees’ mental health. Employees may feel anxious about their family’s health or balancing work and child care. They may mourn the loss of “normal” days.

You can ease your workers’ worries by looking out for their psychological safety.

“It’s absolutely essential for employers to recognize that their workers and their families are coping with different situations, including the threat of illness and school closures,” says Lili Tenney, MPH, associate director for outreach, senior instructor at the Center for Health, Work & Environment at the Colorado School of Public Health.

Use our tips to practice compassionate leadership during these hard times so you can help your employees by encouraging and empowering them.

1. Embrace transparency

The more honest and open you are, the more reassured your employees will feel. “Adjust your management and business operations, and communicate why you’re doing that,” Tenney says. Sharing information builds trust which is valuable when so many people are working remotely and not seeing you face-to-face.

2. Be honest

Your employees are not the only ones dealing with stress. You undoubtedly share many of their concerns. Tenney says voicing these concerns is productive. “Having business owners show vulnerability by talking about what they’re feeling can provide better relatability to employees.”

3. Communicate frequently

Seeing and hearing from those in charge reduces doubt and worry, especially for those working remotely. Call instead of sending an email. Hold meetings via videoconferencing. “We’re at a time where overcommunicating is nothing but helpful,” notes Tenney.  

4. Share resources

Find interesting articles, podcasts and videos related to mental health and COVID-19. For example:

5. Give workers more control

Studies have shown giving autonomy to workers in high-stress situations helps them thrive. Let employees make their own choices (within reason), such as setting remote work schedules or when to hold meetings. The greater control balances out things they can’t control, such as the spread of the virus.

6. Practice self-care

It’s just as important for you to care for yourself as it is for you to care for your workers. Schedule time each day to do something you enjoy. Read a book, meditate, take a walk. The support and care you give yourself will help you stay grounded while you are giving your team the care and support they need.

Download Pinnacol's "Psychological safety for employees" infographic for an easily accessible resource.

Have questions? Get in touch with Pinnacol by calling 303.361.4000.

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