How to Improve Your Team's Mental Health During COVID-19 | Ctrl+Alt+Delete with Lisa Duerre: For Leaders In Tech Escaping Burnout and Rebooting Their Identity


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Do you have trouble sleeping? Are you having poor appetite or overeating? Are you having more frequent headaches or more frequent stomach aches? Are you increasing your alcohol or drug use? Have you been losing your temper more? Or are you overall feeling any chronic conditions worsening? These are the questions that were asked in a recent health survey published by KFF and these are the symptoms that are showing up every day for the people that you lead and love. What's astonishing to me is how widespread the impact of the coronavirus is on those teams that you're leading.

When I look back at the data and I have it in front of me, in March, 32% of people said they were having one or more of those symptoms. Now, in August 53% of respondents said that. That's dramatic. That is dramatic and I bet you're having these too. I know I am, right? So between sleep, appetite or overeating, headache or stomach ache, alcohol or drug use, temper, having difficulty controlling your temper and also chronic conditions being worsened, that's what's happening right now. As a leader in your organization, I want to come to you today with a couple of things you can do right now, actually three things you can do right now to help your team.

The first is very simple and it gets missed a lot and I'm noticing it really has a profound impact on mental health, and it's as simple as being clear when the camera needs to be on and when the camera can be off when it comes to the meetings that you're having. It's almost as if overnight everyone went to Zoom and all of a sudden you had to be on all the time to make up for not being in the room together. The reality is, people have been working remotely for a long time and they were never always on a video. They could take a walk and get some fresh air. They might throw a load of laundry in while they're on an all hands call. They had the freedom to be able to get some stuff done in the background that didn't take away from the day job, which helped with peace of mind and stress and overwhelm. So I think it's important.

My message to leaders today is it's important to think about when the camera needs to be on and when it can be not mandatory, but perhaps voluntary at a minimum. Your people need the break. This is what's going on, and as you are leading your companies and your organizations, you set the tone. So taking a look at your cadence of meetings, how often you're meeting with people and making sure that you can even put in the meeting proposal or agenda camera's on or camera's off, whether it's voluntary or not, that would go a long way when it comes to the mental health of your entire employee base.

The second thing to think about that will help with mental health right now is revisiting priorities. So listen, as leaders in companies and organizations, I know you have to close the year out strong. I know there's a lot of budget planning for next year. I know that head count and resource planning is always critical. Right now, it's essential that you're crystal clear on the non-negotiables and where there's wiggle room. So taking a look at the priorities that you cascade down into your organization and then empowering your VPs, directors and frontline managers to actually take action on the things that are most important, and also to put other things on hold.

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