This toolkit was originally created by RAISE to help City of Alexandria supervisors and staff understand the mental health impact of COVID-19 and challenges associated with returning to the workplace. The content below has been adapted so that other organizations can use the toolkit for their supervisors and staff, too.
This toolkit is designed to help supervisors and their staff understand the mental health impact of COVID-19 and challenges associated with returning to the workplace. While many employees continue to work from home, some are returning to work sites and offices.
Because the pandemic is still ongoing, supervisors and staff may be experiencing feelings of concern and uncertainty regarding the impact returning to a work site may have on themselves and their families. They may experience doubt, anxiety, stress, fear and depression, and may even be experiencing grief or a sense of loss for the way of life before the pandemic.
Expect your staff to express concerns and ask questions about their return to work. You may hear questions related to:
- Workspace and work environment, such as concerns about shared workspace and proximity to others, and use of office equipment such as copy machines, coffee makers and kitchen supplies.
- Spreading the virus, such as concerns about risks of contracting the virus from someone who is sick or from an asymptomatic individual who could transmit the virus unknowingly.
- Financial concerns, such as worries about monthly bills, past due rent or mortgage payments and medical bills.
- Sick days, such as feeling scared to request leave because it might cause a staffing issue related to workload, or if they are able to use vacation days if their sick leave is exhausted.
- Addressing safety issues, such as what to do if a co-worker is not practicing safety measures.
- Feeling “Pandemic Fatigue” or restlessness, mood swings, extreme changes in energy, and a whole range of emotions after months of changes and chronic, underlying anxiety and uncertainty. This may cause them to want to do pre-pandemic activities to cope with the changes, possibly putting themselves and others at risk of contracting the virus.
Expect Adjustment Periods
Life and work routines have been impacted by the pandemic. It takes energy and time to create new systems as we return to work. Things may be fine for a few weeks as we focus on creating new routines, but it is normal for us to expect some dysregulation once routines are in place. We may find ourselves feeling angry, distracted or lashing out.
Also, remember that everyone’s situation is different. Work towards equitable solutions; each employee may have a different need. Consider this when making staffing assignments and schedules.
What You Can Do to Help
Be sure that employees are aware of multiple channels to voice feelings about COVID-19, such as their immediate supervisor, members of the management chain, human resources staff, employee assistance program, a counselor, a wellness program and their healthcare provider.
- Encourage colleagues to be safe and observe safety guidelines, such as wearing face coverings and cleaning their work spaces.
- Share resources within the workplace and take turns cleaning shared equipment.
- Make use of online meeting tools to set up meetings with individual staff members and teams to discuss the challenges of work, as well as general concerns and successes.
- Be willing to listen and share concerns without judgement.
- Listen with intent and empathy—no concern is too small or too big.
- Encourage each other to use the resources listed.
- Generate solutions together.
Below are some tips and resources to help supervisors in their adjustment and as they support staff in theirs.
- Trauma Informed; Understanding and Implementing
- Burnout Prevention and Treatments
- Road Map to Trauma Informed Care
- Cumulative Toll of Trauma
RESOURCES TO OFFER STAFF
- Coping with COVID Resource Guide
- Race Based Trauma Resources and Support in Times of Civil Strife
- Why Mindfulness is a Superpower
- Your Brain Under Stress
- Trauma & Resilience Tree
- List of Various Community Resources Throughout the DMV
RESOURCES FOR SUPERVISORS
- Trauma Informed Self Assessment
- Creating Trauma Informed Spaces
- Tips for Managing Telecommuters
- Tips for Authenticity w/ Remote Employees
- Mental Health First Aid
For more information, or to view additional virtual resources, visit the RAISE webpage.