As a leader, don’t think you and your company can just “get through it”. According to a recent mental health survey, 75% of Americans in the work force are experiencing serious burn out. This article from McKinsey offers a thoughtful blueprint on best practices that include: showing employees compassion coupled with “bounded optimism” (people respond better when hope is tempered with the uncertainties of the future); striving to be more adaptive in your practices, which in turn shows resilience; focusing on the care and well-being of your employees; and prioritizing the company’s larger purpose instead of getting caught up in minor goals.
Consider redefining your company's purpose. The pandemic has created a lot of soul searching and reconfiguration as companies continue to adjust to this new, uncharted territory. As the idea of a post-pandemic future draws nearer, it might be time for a reassessment of the core values of your company. This Fast Company article discusses how to translate updated values into behaviors and "adding culture hacks to drive on-the-ground change."
Make time for your employees to talk about anything but work. You should be constantly checking on in everyone’s health and stress levels, but there should also be time for water cooler talk. Schedule time each week for these more casual interactions. Attend on occasion, at least for the first one or two in order to get the conversation rolling. Ask about weekend plans, current TV shows and come prepared with a few questions.
Consider adding a couple of hours each week of “employee autonomy” like Google and 3M do. Each company has long given 15% (3M) to 20% (Google) of each work week to allow employees to work on their own passion projects. Those projects in turn, have become some of the companies’ biggest money-makers. Patagonia took it a step further and allows employees to decide their own schedule, which means sleep, exercising and other healthy habits still have a place in an employee’s work week.