Mental health and resilience

After multiple lockdowns many businesses’ financial resources will be running low and the mental health resource of owners, directors, managers and staff is probably in a similar state, writes Cathy Parker.

Repeated lockdowns and then, for many businesses that have to close during lockdowns, the significant post-lockdown catch-up workload, can take its toll on directors, managers and their teams. 

This can be especially magnified in SMEs in private ownership, where the owners not only face these stresses but also the financial stresses of keeping the business operating.

This is especially if, as in many private businesses, the owner’s financial security and even their house may be on the line as security for business finances or personal guarantees they have provided for premises’ leases.

Whilst the wage subsidy and resurgence payments help where businesses are unable to trade, for many that can still operate, they may not have a large enough downturn to be eligible, but the downturn will still have a significant impact on cash flow and profitability. 

After multiple lockdowns many businesses’ financial resources will be running low and the mental health resource of owners, directors, managers and staff is probably in a similar state.

A bit like the bank account, if you keep having to dip into your mental resilience on a repeated basis it starts to take a toll. 

The enforced time at home, often with extra childcare and a lack of activity, can also be tough on people. If any of your team live on their own, lockdowns may be extra hard for them.

During lockdown and when back at work check in with your team on how they are coping. 

Our business instigates weekly staff catch-ups on Zoom so everyone can at least connect. These tend to focus more on how people are and what they are doing rather than strictly work-related issues. 

I know other businesses that do things like online staff quizzes to help maintain connections.

It’s also essential to take some of Jacinda’s mantra of “be kind” and apply it to yourself as well as your team. 

You don’t have to be a superhero – take a walk, read a book or just chill out a bit each day. In other words, give yourself a break. Maybe have a treat food from time to time and try and limit drinking to stay healthy.

If you are not able to work maybe you can do some online learning, whether work-related or personal. Maybe learn some Te Reo or sign language, brush up on some of the computer programs you use or read a good business magazine such as Management

Another good thing for mental health is to be active, take regular walks or runs, get staff to connect via apps such as Strava or Map my Run to challenge each other to meet exercise targets (My daughter was part of a group challenge to run 100km during lockdown).

The Mental Health Foundation has some great business resources available online https://mentalhealth.org.nz/workplaces  including a specific page on workplace wellbeing during Covid-19. The business.govt.nz website also has a section on mental health for you and your staff and larger businesses could look to utilise their existing staff EAP schemes to help those facing mental health challenges.

On a parting note, don’t forget that mental health is a part of health and safety, so apart from being a good thing to do, it also helps you meet these obligations.  

Cathy Parker is a director of Adrenalin Publishing, which owns Management magazine. She also sits on a number of boards.

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