Even before the Coronavirus, humanity has been facing a barrage of challenges. The impact of this is leading to a decline in our psychological and emotional well-being.
The World Economic Forum Reported last year that this psychological stress is related to a feeling of a lack of control in the face of uncertainty. That overall, as a society, humans are becoming increasingly angry, anxious, unhappy and lonely, while empathy appears to be declining. Given a more recent review in the Lancet, on the impact of isolation, it is likely that our wellbeing in society won’t have improved.
If this is the psychological ‘soup’ that we are working within, which will only become intensified over this pandemic, what can we do as leaders to help our people and get the best from them? The Psychosocial approach is used to provide support to individuals during times of crisis.
What I like about this approach is that it looks at the individual in their social context. I believe it can give us some insights that will help individuals, teams and groups within our organisations during this pandemic.
9 Ways We Can Provide Psychosocial Support
Create Safety – In the workplace, this includes promotion of physical, psychological and financial safety. A sense of security is essential to reduce the biological responses to stress. Do what you can with the resources available to you. Remind people that they are safe in this present moment and all the actions that have been put in place to keep them safe.
Strengthen and utilise existing resources – Take stock of what you have in terms of resources, capabilities and capacities. Build on these. Reinforce people’s strengths and what they can do. Take the time to build stronger relationships with your key clients and suppliers.
Create calm – It is natural at times like these that you and the people around you will experience a range of emotions. Some people will respond with strong emotions. It is important that you remain calm.
Keep communicating – Even if there is nothing to report. Regular communication helps people be calm. Your message should be simple and credible. Ensure that you acknowledge uncertainty. Tell them; What you know, What you don’t know and What process you are using to get answers.
Assess needs and problems – Keep an eye on the common themes that are arising in the people around you. Their psychological needs and issues are likely to change over time.
Identify the people at risk – You will probably know the people in your organisation that are more vulnerable. Where possible sign-post them to support.
Develop social connectedness – Promote the connectivity of your people within your organisation. Here is a link to some ideas.
Develop a supportive context – Provide a listening ear, support, and comfort, be sensitive to immediate practical needs. Encourage everyone in your team to do the same. Here is a link to some ideas.
Create a better future – Practical hope will give your people something to work towards and help overcome a siege mentality. Once you can, start working towards a better tomorrow, articulate this better future frequently. A Better tomorrow could involve anything from a repositioning of your services to a complete restructure. For some, it could mean an expansion of their offerings.
Over the coming weeks, I will cover each of these points in more detail to provide support during this Coronavirus Pandemic. Feel free to contact me if there is a particular topic you’d like me to write on.
In response to these difficult times, I’ve made available two coaching hours a week to support two Leaders and their teams facing crises at no cost. Contact me on a first-come, first-served basis if you are interested.
- Dückers, Michel & Yzermans, Joris & Jong, Wouter & Boin, Arjen. (2017). Psychosocial Crisis Management: The Unexplored Intersection of Crisis Leadership and Psychosocial Support. Risk, Hazards & Crisis in Public Policy. 8. 94-112. 10.1002/rhc3.12113. Available at: <https://www.researchgate.net/publication/317647067_Psychosocial_Crisis_Management_The_Unexplored_Intersection_of_Crisis_Leadership_and_Psychosocial_Support> [Accessed 17 April 2020].
- Brooks, S. K., Webster, R.K., Smith, L.E. 2020 Woodland, L., et al., The psychological impact of quarantine and how to reduce it: rapid review of the evidence. The Lancet, Rapid Review, [online] 395(10227), pp.912-920. Available at: <https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)30460-8/fulltext> [Accessed 17 April 2020].
- The Global Risks Report 2019. 14th ed. [ebook] World Economic Forum, pp.32-43. Available at: <http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_Global_Risks_Report_2019.pdf> [Accessed 17 April 2020].
- BMJ 2020; 368 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m516 (Published 07 February 2020)
- CERC: Psychology Of A Crisis. [ebook] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control Prevention. Available at: <https://emergency.cdc.gov/cerc/ppt/CERC_Psychology_of_a_Crisis.pdf> [Accessed 17 April 2020].
- Taneja, S., Golden-Pryor, M., Sewell, S. and Recuero, A., 2014. Strategic Crisis Management: A Basis For Renewal And Crisis Prevention. [ebook] Journal of Management Policy and Practice. Available at: <http://m.www.na-businesspress.com/JMPP/TanejaS_Web15_1_.pdf> [Accessed 17 April 2020].
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