By Byron McCauley
Are your teams OK?
During the past year, all businesses, from life sciences start-ups to established ones, have had to pivot due to external circumstances. Business and industry continue to deal with a global pandemic and — in the United States — social and political unrest. Employees who are parents of school-age children might be trying to figure out how to manage their child’s virtual education while working from home.
Just one of those challenges would be enough to create extraordinary stress on employees, said Chris Powell, founder of CincyTech portfolio company Talmetrix, the employe feedback and insights firm. Such stress can cause anxiety, which can lead to other challenges.
“When anxiety starts to show up in our human experience, it detracts from our energy and vitality, and it undermines our ability to engage and perform,” Powell said.
Portfolio company Clarigent Health has developed a platform based on artificial intelligence and machine learning that helps detect mental health conditions and help save lives. CEO Don Wright said the social impact of COVID-19 has been harmful.
“It’s possible that relevant ‘thought markers’ for suicide have shifted across the population because everyone has experienced such dramatic life changes,” Wright said.
With the stakes high, Powell said leaders should check on their teams and establish a safe place for open communication, something he calls “heavy work that’s got to happen.”
Powell has the following tips for leader check-ins:
- Show empathy.
- Acknowledge possible challenges and ask leaders to see where their teams are in their mental and emotional well-being.
- Highlight the availability of counseling services through health benefits.
- Encourage people and establish space for employees to meet in groups.
“Leaders of organizations need to acknowledge the current state — not make an opinion about it — but talk about it in broad terms. We are seeing discord in America about race, political beliefs and religion,” Powell said. “On top of that, we are physically separated, so the random opportunity to engage and connect doesn’t happen as frequently.”
Byron McCauley is senior marketing manager at CincyTech. Email him at email@example.com.