Overcoming Pandemic Fatigue – Five Recommendations

Image: https://unsplash.com/photos/1K9T5YiZ2WU
Credit: Unsplash

Since the COVID-19 Pandemic is disproportionately affecting minority communities, as a diversity consultant I welcome this guest blog kindly provided by Cristy Canes.

Flattening the mental health curve is another challenge brought about by the coronavirus — this time, through a phenomenon called pandemic fatigue. This is the kind of fatigue that comes from the stress of social distancing, wearing a mask, and frequent hand-washing. In addition, there’s pressure to make health-related behavior changes, such as increasing physical activity, eating healthy, and quitting smoking — all this on top of widespread job loss, social isolation, childcare challenges, and general uncertainty about the future. It’s all too taxing for the mental health of people everywhere, leading to bouts of loneliness, depression, fear, and anxiety.

The impact of the pandemic fatigue is even greater on racial and ethnic minorities, who are more likely to have low-wage jobs or be laid off due to the economic slump. These disenfranchised communities also have greater health risk as essential workers with more exposure to the virus, but are less likely to have health insurance or access to medical care.

Moreover, the Center for American Progress reported on higher unemployment rates for same-sex couples even before the pandemic. And while there’s no data yet on the impact of the current pandemic fatigue on LGBTQ+ minorities, history can show how they’ll be disproportionately affected and will take longer to recover, too.

All this is why it’s crucial for companies to step up and take the lead in making the necessary changes for their employees, and help them cope in the current crisis. Total Engagement Consulting by Kimer previously pointed out the importance of promoting effective diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace. It can start with having mission, vision, and values statements, so they can formalize their goals and become empowered as one solid organization. This can lessen the impact of the pandemic fatigue, especially on minorities, and can be further supported if individual steps to overcome it will be encouraged among employees. Five of these steps include:

1) Accepting negative emotions. Be honest about bottled up emotions like anxiety and uncertainty. Don’t be afraid to talk about these things. It’ll be good to let all the negativity out of your system by consciously releasing them through constant communication with family, friends, and even colleagues.

2) Creating new goals. Set personal goals that are achievable, enjoyable, and will give a sense of accomplishment — whether it’s exercise or small weekly social gatherings. It’s good to have something to look forward to on a daily basis.

3) Conserving emotional resources. Employees should also take time out from work to prioritize self-care. If you’re pressed for time or energy, then even just a few seconds of deep breathing can do the trick. Sheena Bergado writes on Pain Free Working’s guide to breathing exercises that these have the power to reduce stress and improve your mood. Deep breathing by inhaling and exhaling slowly through the nose may seem simple, but it has great benefits in getting rid of headaches and calming your nerves.

4) Being kind to yourself. As an employee, you should recognize that it’s okay to have both good and bad days. Instead of focusing on the negatives, try to acknowledge and celebrate your achievements. This is a conscious effort that can be done through positive self-talk, which can make you mentally stronger and more resilient in any tough situation.

5) Asking for help. Although it’s good to be mentally tough on your own, it’s also good to ask for help. Employees don’t have to be afraid to seek support from mental health professionals in their organization or elsewhere, whenever needed. Alan Kohll of TotalWellness advocates for workplaces that support mental health, where there could be awareness, training, mental health policies, fair treatment, screening resources, or monitoring of employee engagement.

Always remember that we’re all in this together, and your success, whether in work output or mental wellness, is also the success of your team. Don’t hesitate to reach out and make the most of the practice of diversity, equity, and inclusion in your organization.

 *    *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

This guest blog was authored by Cristy Canes, provided solely for totalengagementconsulting.com

Stan Kimer is a diversity consultant and trainer who handles all areas of workplace diversity and with a deep expertise in LGBT diversity strategy and training, Unconscious Bias and Employee Resource Groups. Please explore the rest of my website and never hesitate to contact me to discuss diversity training for your organization, or pass my name onto your HR department.  [email protected]

Helping Minorities Get Better Use Of Their Employee Benefits

Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com

One critical diversity, equity and inclusion discussion which may not get much visibility in the workplace is around assuring that employee benefit programs are equally accessible and valuable to the full range of diverse employees.

With the upcoming millennial workforce being 16% more diverse than the baby boomers’ generation, diversity, equity and inclusion is an important aspect that companies and businesses must embrace and continue to strive for. As the push for more diverse inclusive workplaces continues, the way that an HR department helps under-represented minorities access their employee benefits plays an important role. Consider a few of these tips on how to aid in communication with and support of minority employees.

Encourage open communication. An important aspect of helping minority employees better navigate and understand their employee benefits is to make sure that they feel supported by their human resources department, as well as their company as a whole. Making it known that open communication and discussions are not just tolerated but actually welcomed and encouraged can help diverse employees feel more comfortable opening up and asking any questions they may have about their benefits package.

While it is important to have open communication within a team environment, it can also be beneficial to adopt some of those same philosophies for an HR department. When a company has minority employees, they should actively accept feedback, stay open to suggestions, and pay attention to the issues that affect their minority employees directly.

Offer inclusive benefits. While every benefits package does not always look the same, if a company is looking to directly support their minority employees, they must consider inclusive employee benefits and perks that support diversity—as this shows a commitment to creating an all-embracing workplace where individuals’ beliefs, cultures, and orientations are supported.

From offering holiday time to various cultural or religious backgrounds or offering professional development courses and instruction for employees whose backgrounds may not have offered them the same opportunities, there are many ways that companies can begin to create a more welcoming culture.

Photo by LinkedIn Sales Navigator on Unsplash

Discuss where they can save money.   Typically, employee benefits offer affordable, convenient options for employees to receive the types of coverage needed to secure their families and protect their financial well-being. As an HR department, taking this a step further can mean also discussing the areas where employees can save money by forgoing certain benefits and acquiring them on their own.

Life insurance coverage is an example of one of these benefits. Employee-provided life insurance is a great option for individuals that need basic coverage for their salary as an income replacement. But often, this plan isn’t enough coverage for individuals and they can actually find a more affordable and comprehensive plan through a life insurance broker. Because life insurance rates are dependent on many factors including age, health, hobbies, and more, some employees may qualify for lower rates than the set employer-provided plan. Taking time to have these discussions with employees shows that the company cares about more than just the work they do in the office.

Obtain the proper information. To better support minority employees with their benefits, it is helpful to be prepared with the correct information, research, or statistics. By prepping HR with adequate background knowledge, they are given the opportunity to provide better suggestions on how to navigate their benefits. Similarly, learning to adopt different perspectives is a form of having more information.

For some companies, this might include diversity training programs. These various types of training can be especially useful for human resources employees with hiring and promotion processes while also aiding them with the right language and best practices to support all the diverse populations within their organization.

#     #     #     #     #     #     #

As employee benefits are a great incentive for all employees, specifically aiding HR departments with the correct tools to help minority employees get the best use of them is a great way to start creating a more welcoming workspace for all.