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Ensuring Your Workforce’s Emotional Health is Just as Important as Physical Health and Safety

April 3rd, 2020 | Published by: NEW Construction Alliance

The focus on safety and keeping the construction workforce has long been an integral part of any successful business, and that focus has been drawn into laser focus since the outbreak of the Coronavirus.

 

But physical health and safety are only a part of the equation when weathering a crisis like this.  Construction has rightly been deemed an essential industry, which has kept many working.  Unfortunately, that doesn’t alleviate the many related challenges caused by such a dramatic state-wide shutdown, such as child-care needs, potentially sick family members and other non-work related obligations.  

 

It is every bit as important to help ensure your team’s emotional health during these trying times. 

 

To help address these needs, The Build Out spoke with Deb Franckowiak, Ph.D., an executive coach and organizational design consultant with Inspired Training Institute, Inc., about effective ways to achieve the right balance in situations like this.

 

She explained, “Often unexpected events can leave employees feeling distracted or just plain stressed out. As an employer, you are in a very unique position as you have the ability to put your employees’ minds at ease, direct them to resources, and ensure that they have the support that they may need right now.”

 

Franckowiak said that enhancing employee engagement is key during this difficult time and suggested two main ways to accomplish this goal: A communication plan and a focus on people.

 

She stressed the number one factor in a successful communications plan is to execute the actual plan.  “Create a communication plan and stick to it,” offered Franckowiak.  “I would suggest creating a templated communication document, or a frequently asked questions (FAQ) document that can be amended [as circumstances change.] The idea is to create a single source of truth for your employees.”

 

Uncertainty can increase stress levels and the nature of this shutdown can and has created significant breaks in people’s normal routines.  “if you have a wellbeing platform at work—this is the time to kick it into high gear,” said Franckowiak. 

 

“Promote healthy habits related to maintaining good health and hygiene. Hold a once a week webinar about your plans to safeguard employees from COVID-19,” she continued.  “If you have employees that are passionate about wellness, ask them to become your wellbeing champions. Ask them to come up with challenges, daily inspirational emails [and/or] physical challenges,” for employees to help keep their spirits up.

 

Everyone responds differently to stress, so Franckowiak pointed out that companies offering an employee assistance program (EAP) should highlight this amazing resource to their staff. “Remind them that feelings of stress and anxiety may require immediate support and share the contact information with them,” which not only benefits the employee, but reiterates how much the company values them.

 

“Emotional intelligence is made up of short-term, tactical, ‘dynamic’ skills, which can be brought into play as a situation warrants,” according to Emotional Intelligence and Your Success, 3rd Edition by Steven J. Stein and Howard E Book (Jossey-Bass, 2011). 

 

To maintain the workforce’s emotional health during this period will require leadership to bring their emotional intelligence A-game to bear.

 

Franckowiak offered a few ideas to help managers to do just that:
-Educate yourself on the virus but don't get sucked into the melodrama of the media.

-Remember that things are changing on a daily basis (sometimes hourly)—remind those that you lead of this fact as well.

-Be flexible, be adaptive, and be willing to make difficult choices.

-Remember to ask yourself " what is most important" whenever you can.  Ensure that you have clear business protocols and expectations in place and fine tune if necessary. If you don't, then you will need to take the time to create one or hire someone qualified to create one for you.  

-Be sure to leverage your team! You are not in this alone, bring your team together often and engage them.

-Over-Invest in communication. Remember to communicate realistically and positively. Remember to communicate with your remote workers. Pay attention to your communication style and tactics - be visible if at all possible.  

-Find ways to create connections. You will need to be willing to have informal conversations (personal concerns)—video conferencing is a great tool to use for this.

-Be authentic. If you don't know—say so. Never hide bad news.

-Remember to manage yourself. You are a human being and you are stressed like everyone else (and maybe even more so). Take the time to make yourself as prepared and focused as you can be. Stay balanced, eat properly, get some exercise and practice mindfulness.

To learn more about Deb Franckowiak, visit her website here.  Or you can reach out to her about helping your company via email at
Deb@inspiredtraining.net or via text/phone at (414) 704-9717.

  • NEW Construction Alliance
  • 317 West Walnut Street
  • Green Bay WI 54303