Between stress and fear, people across the country are struggling with more than just COVID-19. It’s an unprecedented time in our country’s history, which has led to mental health challenges particularly for those on the frontlines. We can help alleviate these challenges. We can help people cope with stress, by building stronger individuals, teams, and communities.
In healthcare, foodservice plays a vital role in the health and recovery of patients, but in a time of crisis, we need to put additional emphasis on the wellness of our team members. By making a concerted effort to care for individuals, managers have an opportunity to make a measurable impact on the mental health of our teams.
Don’t Deny Emotions
People are feeling a range of emotions from personal fear to professional doubt. We must embrace that in the workplace and acknowledge it. Denying our emotions or bottling them up, will only lead to difficulty down the road.
In many respects, the emotion many people feel is akin to grief. As a result, the Harvard Business Review wrote an article with David Kessler, an expert on grief who has three decades of healthcare experience.
“We’re feeling a number of different griefs,” said Kessler in the Harvard Business Review interview. “We feel the world has changed, and it has. We know this is temporary, but it doesn’t feel that way, and we realize things will be different.”
To best address this grief, we can’t ignore the world around us, said Kessler. It won’t go away. The goal should be to find balance in your thoughts. If you start thinking too negatively, center yourself and remember this is temporary. Remind yourself and your team daily that this is not the new normal, even if it may seem like it at times.
This is a time to overprotect, not overreact.
A Seat at the Table
It’s a time of great distress for many. With it comes a sense of helplessness. As a manager, you can help give your staff a sense of control by granting them a seat at the table.
A few ideas of how to integrate your teams into the decision-making process:
When having a conversation with your team members, there are truly only three things you need to address:
If you are able to get those points across, your team will feel connected and valued.
With so much stress in healthcare organizations, burnout is a real concern. To best boost the resilience of our teams, we need to make targeted efforts to safeguard their mental health. According to J. Bryan Sexton, associate professor in psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke’s School of Medicine, there are three ways to increase resilience:
It’s a difficult time for everyone. As leaders, we need to embrace compassion and put our people and patients first. With these tips, you have the ammunition to create a positive environment for your team and safeguard their mental health.
For more tips on mental health and foodservice best practices during the COVID-19 outbreak, visit Morrison Healthcare’s COVID-19 Resource Center.