Critical Topic Discussion Group 3 Supporting Staff Mental Health Wellbeing – April 8, 2020

Our third session in the Critical Topic Discussion Series held on April 8th, 2020, focused on Supporting Staff Mental Health.  The session consisted of 15 minutes of best practice information by our keynote speaker Aaron Telnes – Registered Psychologist from Calgary Career Counselling. Subsequently, everyone was divided into breakout groups for 45 minutes to discuss questions and concerns on this topic and get insights from others.

Lisa Arora from Get The Picture created a graphic recording of our session. SEE VIDEO of this session at the end of this article.

Supporting Staff Mental Health Graphic Recording

Discussion Summary

Outcomes

  1. Churchill: “If you are going through hell, keep on going.”
  2. People who are panicking may be taking too long a view. We should learn from organizations like AA: If a week is too long and stresses you out, shorten your time frame to a day. If a day is too long and stresses you out, shorten your time frame to an hour. Just get through that hour. One foot in front of the other and soon the hour will be over. Then on to the next hour.
  3. Our organizations can only function and issue deliverables on a timely basis if the people/companies we rely on can do the same.
  4. For people who are at home with kids who are going to school on-line, don’t take on too much – don’t be the teacher.
  5. When communicating to staff, be transparent about company finances.
  6. The HBR article on grief is a good read.
  7. Use what resonates with you.
  8. One person has developed a gratitude waterfall, there is lots to be grateful for.
  9. Focus on what makes people smile and laugh. For instance: Caption: “My co-worker just fell asleep on my foot” (photo of a dog on your shoe).
  10. One of the big unknowns is how long these abnormal working situations are going to last. There is no countdown to “normal”.
  11. What does post C-19  re-integration look like?
  12. People working from home need to remember to get up and move. Eat lunch away from your computer. Set work boundaries (space and time). Shower in the morning. Don’t stay in your jammies.

Current State of Some Staff

  1. Big adjustment – extra work.
  2. Less team communications.
  3. Fight/Flight is evident, response to requests for help is lower.
  4. Empowerment to saying “no”.
  5. Stress builds and empathy lessens.
  6. Struggle dividing home from work – are we trying to do too much?
  7. Adapting – New normal with cabin fever, partner job losses – financially okay. Enjoying quieter times.

Resources Available to Staff During this Time

  1. Benefits are still available.
  2. Insurers are adding on free services – more generous.
  3. Virtual psychologist services through benefits providers.
  4. Extra spending for health and wellness.
  5. Actively ask them how they’re doing.
  6. Taking days off is important.
  7. Vary resource loads as a way to build trust – bank hours/time off.
  8. Post the fun things: mustaches, dress-up themes.

Lessons Learned

  1. Read between the lines, don’t take literally the things people say.
  2. Everyone is so different in their response to stress and change.
  3. Behaviours are magnified at tough times. Those that are driven, drive harder. Those that are introverted may stay more quiet.
  4. People might be less resilient and you may have to talk them off the ledge from time to time.
  5. Need to pace appropriately. Some staff finding it hard to regulate work/home commitments to a normal degree.
  6. Need routine.
  7. Need to connect with others, but also know when it’s then time to pull back when your limits are reached.
  8. Teams are very diverse. Some people (engineers) aren’t so nimble and adaptable. Not comfortable with permanent changes. Others are moms/parents as well. Added responsibilities even though they have spouses at home not working. No set schedule in households.
  9. Building trust was initially challenging but relationship is actually growing through remote access. Doing conference call Bingo. Trivia series. Last call with staff the question was raised to ask people what their sliver linings are. Struggles are that these activities are taking non-chargeable time.
  10. At beginning, one company didn’t seem very supportive of working from home, but they have come around in a big way. Positive attitude and talk has been really good.
  11. The staff can handle it when management isn’t uptight!
  12. Let the bottom up approach work. Figure out a way to let people geek out. Learned about managers needing to adapt to way to get information fed back to the managers so that the information became more meaningful – taken over regionally by local managers.
  13. Takes longer to get work done – it is becoming accepted that people will get done what they can get done, and work with it as long as you can. Procedures have changed – a lot owing to security, but also just to circumstances. Telling people to separate their workday – shut it down, develop routine, etc. People are responding well and the pressure has come off.
  14. Watch how people are responding to the change and embracing it.

What’s Next?

  1. Freedoms curtailed may cause rebellion.
  2. Are we ready for a crisis during the pandemic? For example, the Crisis Comms community is preparing for wildfire season. Will there be flooding this spring? Etobicoke, Ontario just had a power outage for 48 hours. How can we build more or broader contingencies?

Below is a video of Rachelle Lee,  President of Einblau & Associates kicking-off the session, followed by out keynote speaker, Aaron Telnes.

Upcoming Sessions

We are planning on hosting more of these sessions in the near future. Stay tuned for more information in the coming weeks.

Graphic Recording Created by: Lisa Arora, Get The Picture

Get The Picture captures a group’s key ideas – in text, images and colours – in the moment, during a facilitated group discussion. Their proven visual facilitation methods inspire dynamic and highly productive collaboration and lead to stronger decision-making and positive strategic action.

Get The Picture is now serving the world virtually and visually. That’s because they believe ALL meetings are better when they’re VISUAL. Their expertise includes:

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