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  • Remote Working During a Global Health Crisis - Ask an Expert

    Check out FSEAP’s very own Gregg Taylor from FSEAP Vancouver as he talks about employee mental health and well-being while working from home. Gregg highlights the concepts of grief relative to our experiences and disruptions as a result of COVID-19. Additionally, he talks about how a change in our normal routines, and the concept of working from home, are impacting our productivity at work. Lastly, some strategies for decompression and stress reduction are shared as well. Webinar Information This virtual panel hosted by the Work Wellness Institute describes the essentials of safe and healthy remote working during the current crisis. The panel is co-moderated by the Work Wellness Institute’s President and Chief Executive Officer Cameron Stockdale and includes experts in mental health, ergonomics, employer legal standards, and occupational therapy. These experts speak to the changes required in workplaces due to the global health crisis and answer your questions about navigating this new context. Workplaces in all sectors are facing the impact of the pandemic, leaving many with questions about evolving work environments. Many of these questions are addressed by our panelists, and strategies and solutions are provided. Topics include: Personal well-being and mental health; Employer responsibilities and employee rights; Work-life balance in remote working environments; Maintaining productivity and working relationships. Webinar Resources: Managing the Stress of COVID-19 (Handouts) Employer & Employee Remote Work (Checklist) How to Talk with an Employee or Colleague about their Mental Health (Article) Ergonomics Tips for Working from Home (Tip sheet)

  • Leading your Team through COVID-19

    COVID-19 has impacted us on an individual, social and global level. Organizations and businesses have also been impacted and have not been able to sidestep “change”. Some organizations will have to contend with disastrous negative consequences, the minority might even see positive results, and some will sit in between. However, all leaders of teams, in any context, will have to lead and assist their employees who are not only emotionally impacted by change in their personal lives, which may show up at work, but also by organizational change. Be a Change Agent As a manager or supervisor, you are the “Change Agent”, the person who acts as a catalyst and assumes the responsibility for managing change. Your role is even more important in light of the continually advancing changes that COVID-19 brings with it. Employees will have varying reactions to change; however, it would be reasonable to say that this time in particular is an especially emotionally unsettling time for employees. The following strategies will assist in leading employees through this difficult time, but heed the advice yourself as well if needed. The Cycle of Change William Bridges, a change management consultant and author, developed a model which focuses on transition, not change. The distinction is this: change is something that happens TO people and can happen very quickly; whereas transition is INTERNAL to the person and can take longer for the person to adjust depending on a number of variables. The three-phase model includes stage 1 - “Endings”, stage 2 - “Neutral Zone”, and stage 3 - “New Beginnings”. Ending, Losing and Letting Go Endings are where we disengage from the old. It involves: loss, grief, shock, numbness, denial, anger, hurt, unease, resistance, blaming, complaining, feeling sick, doubt, and stress. You can support your employees by: Giving them the time and space to come to terms with the situation and its repercussions for them. Being transparent and providing as much information as possible on a regular basis that reinforces why the change is important (in reaction to external change). Encouraging questions and ensuring there are plenty of avenues for issues, feelings and concerns to be discussed. Neutral Zone The Neutral Zone is where we have come to terms with the notion that change is occurring but we have yet to connect fully, or understand the new normal. It involves feelings of: indecision, chaos, unknown, anxiety, fear, and, confusion. You can support your employees by: Providing as much information as possible on a regular basis. Keeping them focused on short-term objectives and goals, while at the same time helping them to see the bigger picture. Quickly addressing rumours. Keeping them up to speed with time frames for when and how the change will take place. Involving them as much as they want to be involved and can be involved. New Beginnings New Beginnings is where we begin to understand and connect to the new. It involves energy, creativeness, renewed purpose, renewed direction, growth, and cooperation. You can support your employees by: Rewarding and reinforcing their successes. Reviewing and reflecting on strengths and skills they demonstrated through the change process. Analyzing the change process and highlighting strategies for further change. General Communication Tips to Help your Employees Deal with Crisis Be human and transparent that you too have similar feelings (“we are all in this together”). Normalize that a range of emotions in the change process is to be expected. Listen and understand the emotion presented in the moment (as the presented emotion is not always what the true emotion is at a deeper internal level). Encourage the employee to discuss their true feelings and what might be triggering them. Communicate directly, honestly and calmly. Don’t ask an employee to snap out of it or pull themselves together. Denying their feelings may only drive them deeper into negative feelings. Help the individual to find ways to manage their feelings to organize their thinking patterns. People with an unbalanced emotional state have trouble processing and analyzing thoughts/feelings. Encourage and model self-care. Suggest proactive stress management techniques as well: a dedicated time to talk about issues at team meetings and remind the group that you want everyone to feel “safe” in sharing their feelings; or begin team meetings with a deep breathing technique. Encourage employees to reach out for individual counselling support. Distribute EAP brochures and phone numbers for easy access. Additional Strategies for Leaders Remind your employees to stay away from an overload of social media, to be wary of “fake news”, and offer resources which are credible. Disseminate information to all stakeholders on a consistent basis and be transparent in your message. Gene Klann, author of the book “Crisis Leadership” suggests the “3Rs: Review, repeat, reinforce”. Stay assertive, grounded, and time directed, to have others follow your example. Don’t let people get lost in the negative and stay positive. Be visible and available, show genuine concern for people, and appeal to employees’ sense of principles and morality which are important to them as individuals, i.e., courage, community, etc. Be willing to access support for yourself if you need it. Being in a leadership role can be onerous and it is easy to overlook how you are feeling when you are focused on others. Your employees need you physically and emotionally well, and self-care is equally important for leaders as well. Your employee and family assistance program is available 24/7 to provide professional support. Connect with us. We're here to help.

  • Supporting Employee Mental and Psychological Well-being During COVID-19

    Healthcare workers and first responders experience unique challenges during episodes of disease outbreak and pandemic. Long shifts, infrequent breaks, societal pressure, new policies and procedures, decreased socialization, increased stigma, and fear of becoming ill, can all have an impact on one's ability to cope. These challenges can increase stress and anxiety. Here are a number of considerations that can support the mental health and well-being of healthcare providers and first responders. Employees Feeling stressed during times like these is normal. Make stress management and your mental well-being a priority. Use work breaks to rest. Take as much time to rest between shifts as possible. Look after your physical well-being. Maintain healthy eating and exercise patterns to boost immunity and resilience. Use stress reduction strategies which have been helpful in the past. Avoid unhelpful coping strategies such as tobacco, alcohol, drugs, as these can negatively impact sleep and mental health. Stay connected with family and friends. Consider using digital communication and connection to maintain safety and reduce fear in others. Connecting and talking with a colleague, manager, or other supportive people in your life is key to personal mental health care. If connecting with a colleague or family member isn’t enough, seeking assistance from a professional can help. Leadership This is a marathon, not a sprint. Protecting staff from chronic stress means they will have better capacity and focus to fulfill their role long-term. Encourage and initiate employee work breaks and healthy wellness practices. Keep employees informed by ensuring they received regular quality, accurate communication. Rotate staff from high-stress positions to lower-stress positions to reduce chronic exposure to high-stress situations. Partner inexperienced workers with colleagues that are more experienced and reduce isolation and risk for outreach workers by having them work in pairs. A buddy-system provides an opportunity for support, monitoring stress, and reinforcing compliance with safety requirements. Implement flexible work schedules or allow work from home for those experiencing increased stress due to having close family or friends considered at-risk with COVID-19. Remind employees of the mental health and psychosocial supports available to them. Your employee and family assistance program is available 24/7 to provide professional support. Connect with us. We're here to help. Adapted from World Health Organization—Mental health and Psychosocial Considerations during the COVID-19 outbreak

  • Supporting Healthcare Workers and First Responders During COVID-19

    Resources for Healthcare Leadership Healthcare workers and first responders experience unique challenges during episodes of disease outbreak and pandemic. Long shifts, infrequent breaks, societal pressure, new policies and procedures, decreased socialization, and fear of becoming ill, can all have an impact on one's ability to cope. These challenges can increase stress and anxiety if employees and leaders are not mindful of their mental health and well-being. Sustaining the Well-being of Healthcare Personnel During Coronavirus and Other Infectious Disease Outbreaks This resource outlines the challenges facing healthcare personnel during infectious disease outbreaks and strategies for sustaining healthcare personnel well-being. Source: Uniformed Services University Centre for the Study of Traumatic Stress Supporting the Psychosocial Well-being of Healthcare Providers During the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic This document by the BC Centre for Disease Control outlines the components of psychosocial support responses and psychosocial interventions that enhance Healthcare workers’ coping and personal resiliency. Source: BC Centre for Disease Control Mental Health Considerations During COVID-19 Outbreak In this resource, the World Health Organization outlines the mental health considerations for various groups, including the general population, healthcare workers, team leaders in health facilities, caretakers of children, caretakers for older adults, and people in isolation. Source: World Health Organization Managing Healthcare Workers’ Stress Associated with the COVID-19 Virus Outbreak This document outlines strategies for assisting healthcare workers in fighting stress through preparedness, identification of specific areas of stress for healthcare workers treating patients with the COVID-19 virus, and identification of self-care strategies for dealing with stress both during and after the outbreak. Source: National Center for PTSD Roles and Responsibilities of Healthcare Workers: Considerations for OHS This resource by the World Health Organization provides guidance around the rights, roles, and responsibilities of healthcare facilities, leaders, and workers to protect occupational health and safety during the COVID-19 pandemic. Source: World Health Organization Emergency Responders: Tips for Taking Care of Yourself This resource by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention outlines tips to assist emergency responders in taking care of themselves, including preparing for a response, understanding and identifying burnout and secondary traumatic stress, getting support from team members, self-care strategies, and resources for family members and co-workers. Source: Center for Disease Control and Prevention Preventing and Managing Stress – Tips for Disaster Responders This tip sheet outlines tips for preventing and managing stress before, during and after disaster response assignments. Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services – US Department of Human and Health Services FSEAP remains committed to providing the highest quality of service to customer organizations and employees across the country. Please contact your dedicated account/EFAP program manager if you have questions or requests, and direct employees to call or access myfseap for support. If you aren’t a current customer of FSEAP and would like to learn more about how we can help, please contact us.

  • Keeping Energized at Work

    Studies by occupational and environmental medicine researchers report that up to 40% of U.S. workers experience fatigue. Low energy levels can sap your motivation, reduce productivity, lead to increased errors, and harm interpersonal relationships by making you cranky and difficult to work with. Keeping energized at work can vastly improve the quality of your time spent on the job, and it can help you jump-start your career. What You Can Do at Home 1. Get enough sleep Although medical professionals recommend that adults get at least 8 hours of sleep per night, the average adult reports sleeping just 6.8 hours per night according to a 2005 Sleep Foundation poll. Getting a good night’s rest is the simplest way to dramatically boost your workday energy levels. To maximize the quality of your sleep, avoid using alcohol, tobacco and caffeine (include tea) close to bedtime. All three interrupt sleep patterns. If you chronically snore, check with your doctor to see if you may be suffering from sleep apnea, a condition that disrupts oxygen flow to the brain during slumber. 2. Exercise regularly Although exercising before work is a great way to increase both mental and physical energy, studies show that you can permanently boost energy levels throughout the entire day by maintaining a regular workout schedule. Better yet, consistency is more important than intensity. Even a brisk walk for 20 minutes each day can make the difference between feeling awake and energetic or sleepwalking through the day. 3. Eat right Not only are vegetables and whole grains good for you, they help maintain consistent energy levels because their sugars are absorbed slowly by your body, thereby helping it to avoid blood sugar crashes that lead to exhaustion. (Looks like your mother was right all along!) 4. Reduce stress Stress takes both a mental and physical toll on your energy. Look for positive ways to release work or family related stress. Seek counseling or mental health guidance for problems that seem overwhelming. What You Can Do at Work 1. Put down the coffee, pick up the water Although coffee can be a quick energy boost, users inevitably surf that wave right back to the bottom. Coffee also causes dehydration, one of the most common causes of fatigue, delivering a double whammy to your energy levels. Experts recommend that adults drink at least 8-10 cups of water per day. Coffee junkies can vastly improve energy levels by swapping out their coffee consumption with water. 2. Take a short break While putting your nose to the grindstone for 8-10 hours may seem admirable, taking short breaks every hour or two can actually increase productivity. When your attention starts to waver from your work, take a step away from what’s in front of you and allow yourself a quick walk through or outside the building. 3. Snack regularly Health experts agree that eating several smaller meals a day instead of the usual three large meals helps to smooth out energy levels. Keep supplies of healthy snacks available at your desk for between-meal snacking. 4. Seek out new challenges Repetitious and mundane tasks can sap mental energy as boredom replaces enthusiasm. Proactively seek out new tasks and responsibilities in order to challenge yourself mentally. When you can seemingly do a job in your sleep, it’s time to move on to something new.

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