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Managing Mental Health Post-COVID-19

As employees begin returning to work, employers may experience uptick in employee mental health and performance issues. The Coronavirus (COVID-19) has impacted individuals and families alike resulting in fear and uncertainty. To alleviate some of the effects COVID-19 has had on employees, employers should consider the processes and the “new normal” individuals are facing returning to work. Here are the top three considerations to manage mental health post-COVID-19.

Implementing Empathy

It might sound obvious but expressing empathy for the various situations your employees may be facing goes a long way. While the economic impact of COVID-19 has devastated many businesses, employers should consider open dialogues with employees to discuss performance issues rather than taking immediate action. Employers should consider modifying performance management evaluations upon re-opening business. This approach can alleviate some of the stressors employees face in returning to work.

Did you know that 60% of Americans reported daily stress and anxiety due to COVID-19?[1] Some tips to cope with COVID-19-related stress and anxiety, include:

  • Remain informed: Obtaining information and updates related to COVID-19 can help alleviate the fear of the unknown. However, while remaining informed can be beneficial, try not to obsess about situations outside of your control or excessive monitoring of the news.
  • Communicate with your boss: If any aspect of your workload or work environment is causing stress, it is important to communicate your concerns to your boss. Your leader should have resources and solutions to help reduce your stress and/or anxiety.
  • Connect with family and friends: While physical distancing is still commonplace, connecting with family and friends can oftentimes provide the comfort we seek. Talking through your stress and anxiety with a close family member or friend can provide some relief.
  • Seek professional help: There’s no shame in needing help from a licensed mental health professional. If you need it, mental health professionals are trained to assist and can provide helpful healthy coping techniques.

Creating Transparency

Just like in the early stages of crisis, communication is critical to business efficiencies and managing employee relations. Important communications should include acknowledgment of current employees’ efforts in all business developments, informing of any misinformation received via word of mouth, maintaining updates regarding latest news and concerns of the situation, and opening dialogues to employee suggestions and feedback. Employers should try to remain as transparent as possible to instill employees’ trust and address their questions and concerns in real time.

Re-acclimating Employees

When COVID-19 first hit the nation, many businesses experienced layoffs or furloughs. As businesses re-open and bring back these employees, employers should be mindful that the returning employees may need time to reacclimate to the workplace and workflow. Remote employees returning to the office may also need time to readjust, such as acclimating to commuting and workplace expectations. Re-opening slowly can provide a transition period for employees to return to their normal routines.

Flexible scheduling, employee assistance programs, and providing resources can benefit employees returning to work. If you’re not sure the best approach for your business, please contact Harbor America. Our HR representatives have vast experience, expertise, and resources to assist your business in re-opening and re-establishing best practices for the new normal of business operations.


[1] Gallup