The Challenge for Companies
Brand reputation traditionally factors in how a company treats their employees. The pandemic and recent intolerable racial indignities upheaving the nation has thrust this element into the forefront. Emotional Intelligence Quotient (EQ) weighting has skyrocketed into first place, if not second only behind customer care. Brands are being (re-) defined through the court of public opinion on their ability to effectively demonstrate EQ by addressing these challenges head-on.
Displaying empathy and compassion while successfully leading and supporting their people through this crisis needs to be every leader’s top priority. Maya Angelou’s quote, “When people show you who they are, believe them,” applies to companies too, and now more than ever. How a company is demonstrating their EQ by way of proactive and continuous care and protection of their workforce’s mental and physical health is being viewed as an indicator of who they truly are, and what they really stand for.
The Challenge for Employees
The situation we find ourselves in today is wreaking havoc on mental health as pre-pandemic stressors are piled upon with working from home alongside partners and kids, homeschooling, or maybe in isolation leaving employees feeling detached. Couple that with uncertainty and a shortage and fear consciousness, then pour in racial travesties and ensuing civil unrest. If there were ever a time to show care and feeding, it’s now!
Employees are comparing notes with those working elsewhere, including competitors, and where employers are not actively demonstrating EQ resentment is building. Non-action resonates as “no one cares” for them or their wellbeing. For those in this unfortunate group, tacked onto a resulting drop in morale and productivity, their loyalty is steeply diminishing so it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone when these employees flee as soon as economic conditions improve.
Valéry Brosseau, Mental Health Speaker and Mentor advises, “Mental health training for employees and management staff is crucial. It is possible, and necessary, to cultivate a psychologically safe work environment and to promote support, accommodation, and non-judgment. In an environment where mental health is prioritized, employees can thrive and be infinitely more likely to remain with the company and perform better.”
Valéry continues, “Brené Brown explains that ‘sympathy drives disconnection’ while ‘empathy fuels connection’. Connection is one of any company’s most valuable assets across their employees and their clients. The great news is, empathy can absolutely be learned.”
Companies who are supporting their workforce in stellar ways are improving their brand reputation and loyalty, securing their viability and ability to retain and attract top talent now, and in the future. Savvy employees and customers can plainly see which brands are showing up, and which ones aren’t.
Demonstrating EQ today translates minimally to the following activities:
1. Wellness checks: Schedule recurring wellness check-ins with each team member to inquire and discuss their physical and mental wellbeing, Ask open-ended questions like: How are you really doing? What’s causing you stress? What can help you right now? How can I support you? After asking each question, remain silent and hold the space to allow for responses. Build trust through transparency and modeling by sharing some of your own challenges along with what’s helping you cope. Provide access to employee resources, updates on company status, and let them know that you’re in this together, and will get through it together whatever path that may take. Building that sense of comradery and trust is everything to someone struggling to handle the complexities of our current reality.
2. Encourage self-care: The most important thing we can all do for ourselves is to be kind and offer ourselves much love and compassion. Because our mental health directly affects our physical health, it’s more important than ever that we take intentional care of our mental wellbeing. Where possible allocate time off for wellness, be it a half- or full-day. Encourage team members to get plenty of rest, take regular breaks, and spend time outdoors whether that means taking a walk, or sitting in their backyards to enjoy a cup of tea. Fresh air, sunlight, and nature all have healing properties.
3. Offer mental health support: Large companies have ramped up mental health offerings so be sure you and your teams are aware of and have access to them. Participate for your own wellbeing and encourage team members to participate. Doing something different helps break up negative patterns of thought that produce anxiety, too.
It’s incumbent upon leaders to offer appropriate resources to effectively support their employees. Some (smaller) businesses may lack the resources necessary to provide specialized mental wellness resources. For employers in this category, there are a myriad companies discounting their mental wellness programs and trainings to help, such as Evolving Humankind, Valery Brosseau, and more.
How companies are demonstrating their EQ during these unprecedented times is being viewed on the world’s stage as a display of who they really are, and what they truly stand for. Both employees and consumers are watching, making decisions, and choosing the brands they’ll support based on this display. With this, like a new form of currency, EQ has the power to determine a company’s current and future success.