IT Business Leaders Need Strategies to Manage Employees’ Mental Well-being
Business leaders should identify the most common mental health stressors for employees and then implement low-cost strategies to ease them. Dr. Sagar Samtani, an Assistant Professor at the Kelley School of Business (IU), is a Grant Thornton Scholar. His research interests lie in cyber-threat Intelligence. Dr. Samtani also serves as an executive advisory council member of the CompTIA ISAO. Edlin Garcia is a doctoral student in mental health literacy at the School of Public Health of the IU.
In the past few years, business leaders have had to deal with many external challenges, including Log4j, COVID-19, Russia/Ukraine, and Log4j. They also have to worry about their employees’ mental health. Employees can feel more stressed if they are constantly bombarded with negative thoughts and fear of the unknown. Employees’ mental and physical health can be affected by prolonged stress responses. These issues have forced business leaders into figuring out how to manage worker shortages, team morale and increased personal emergencies. Below are some common mental health stressors employees face and low-cost strategies business leaders can implement to address them.
Related Resource: 5 Strategies for IT Pros’ Mental Well-being
1. Evaluate the Impact of Night Shifts
Stressor: IT professionals need to work night shifts. It is possible to find night owls who can thrive in second and third shifts. There is more demand than there are people available for night shifts. Some employees may only need guidance in setting up a daily routine. Others may struggle to adapt to a nightly schedule, which can make it difficult for them to be alert at work. They might feel exhausted and mentally drain. These employees may benefit from a shift change.
Strategy: Talk to employees who are unable to focus or stay awake during night shifts. Do they sleep 7 to 8 hours each night after their shift ends? Are they following a daily routine? It takes time to establish a consistent schedule, and for the mind and body to adjust to a new routine. They might not be a good fit for the nightshift and want to know what options they have for switching to a day shift. Transparency regarding the processes for getting staff on or off night shifts is crucial as a leader.
2. Host workshops to identify concerns
Stressor: Employees might feel the need to help others who are suffering from mental health issues. Careful employees may not have the necessary training or knowledge to help someone in crisis. This lack of knowledge can lead to a culture in which employees are unable or unwilling to address problems before they escalate.
Strategy: Your role does not include providing treatment or diagnosis to those who are in need. It is important to be able to identify someone who is stressed. To raise awareness about the symptoms and signs experienced by individuals, you might host a workshop or invite a mental health trainer (e.g. from the Mental Health First Aid Program) to your company event.
3. Encourage Response Packages to Help Decompress
Stressor: Addressing important events like those at the top of this blog can lead to a mental or emotionally “high”. It is essential that employees are able to cycle off or come down safely and soundly in order to maintain a steady emotional state.
Strategy: Encourage your colleagues and friends to do all the non-IT-related things they enjoy when they are not working. You could encourage your colleagues to listen to their favorite music, unplug, or just hang out with friends. For the mind and body, healthy ways to decompress can be vital.
4. Share resources to cope with stress
Stressor: It is natural for people to seek ways to reduce stress. There are many coping methods that can be used to reduce stress, including meditation, breathing exercises, and alcohol. Negative coping mechanisms such as alcohol can reduce stress temporarily, but overuse can cause stress symptoms to worsen and have negative consequences at work.
Strategy: Take a moment to share with an employee any resources that you have if they are experiencing difficulties in their day-to-day functioning. You might offer a dedicated line to text or call or a virtual visit (e.g. tele-mental healthcare) to talk to a counselor or other mental professionals who can help.