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Coping as a workplace team during COVID-19

Dr. Robyn Vesey talks about the steps that teams, organisations, and leaders can take to manage the psychological impact of COVID-19.

Robyn helpfully breaks down how workplace teams can be supported into three key principles, with practical examples.

  1. Noticing – developing an awareness that teams are adjusting to many things, including new structures and processes, losses, and even new work and roles.

  2. Acknowledging – demonstrating the awareness that change and disruption are happening and can promote difficult emotions in individuals and teams. This links back to the concept of containment.

  3. Holding contradictions – highlighting that we can have contrasting feelings and experiences during a difficult and disrupted time, and that this is okay.

These principles need a practical application in the workplace. However, keeping these principles and the needs we discussed previously in mind throughout, practical steps can ensure their effectiveness.

Practical steps can be taken, but should be tailored to individual contexts, including:

  • Leaders acknowledging that this is a difficult time with disruption, loss, and change.
  • Giving clear guidance on how staff should be communicating at this time, e.g., the use of digital platforms.
  • Providing opportunities for individuals to share their feelings and experiences one to one, e.g. in line management.
  • Offering team and group opportunities to share and reflect.
  • Separating business and work agendas from personal needs in reflection can be helpful.
  • Collating and sharing people’s experiences to create a shared meaning of how a team understands the situation.
  • Clear communications to normalise people’s experiences and feelings, driven by leadership.
  • Role modelling of open and reflective conversations from leaders.
  • Finally, remembering the core tasks of the team or institution: what are people there to do, and why does this matter?
Have you seen any of these principles of practical steps in your experience? Could you see them being used in your settings? Please add to the discussion below!
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COVID-19: Psychological Impact, Wellbeing and Mental Health

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