On a global scale, Covid-19 and the resulting lockdowns have been challenging for individuals’ mental health. It seems that in one way or another, people may be feeling some strain associated with the crisis. A recent article by The Health Foundation, found that social isolation, job and financial losses, housing insecurity and quality, working in a front-line service, loss of coping mechanisms, and reduced access to mental health services are the most common drivers of worsening mental health during the pandemic.
While the notion of mental health may still be taboo in some business environments, this is not the case at NiceLabel. Recognizing that mental health is tightly linked to good physical health and to the ability of employees to realize their own potential, manage the normal stresses of life, work productively and to make a contribution to their own communities, the company has been devoting significant attention to emotional, psychological and social well-being of the team members already long before the pandemic. Dr. Gill Green, a chartered psychologist and senior consultant at OR Consulting, has been working with the NiceLabel team for several years to foster healthy workplace dynamics and collaboration. Dr. Green, or simply “Gill” as everyone affectionately calls her, has facilitated numerous sessions at NiceLabel, while working with the experienced organizational psychologist is especially important now as employees navigate the challenges of a new working environment.
The virtues of virtual collaboration
NiceLabel has been a pioneer in its use of virtual technology – we like to say, “we are virtual”, meaning our employees work in remote teams that span borders and time zones. We use the latest technology every day to communicate, collaborate and coordinate; we use video and screen sharing natively as our preferred choice. When the pandemic hit, our team was well prepared to handle the “new normal” of working remotely. An employee survey we conducted during the company-wide remote work mandate revealed that team members generally enjoy working from home or other locations and many of us see the current situation as an opportunity to reset thinking, become hyper-focused, improve productivity and enjoy a healthy work-life balance. At the same time, team members admitted they missed the day-to-day office camaraderie and occasionally felt pressure and stress associated with the new, virtual environment. Chris Walsh, NiceLabel’s CEO, stated, “My observation is lockdown is really challenging for mental health and I see signs of this putting strains on people. I encourage people to recognize this is an issue for themselves and others and adjust as best as they are able.”
To help the team at NiceLabel cope with the challenges of the pandemic while remaining productive as they navigate these unprecedented times, the company has started to organize regular webinars with Dr. Gill Green, for the entire team spread across Europe, Asia and America.
The art of coping with Covid-19 and beyond
Personal values and emotions were the central topic of Gill’s first session, where she pointed out that we are unhappy when we live outside our values related to relationships, work, leisure and developing ourselves. Since this is not just the case for us, but for our peers as well, Gill urged everyone to think about how our values can clash with or support those of our colleagues. She challenged us to think how much we talk about our feelings with others. Seeking social support can be one of the most important things we can do to preserve our mental well-being. “Be mindful, focus on the things we can control, and think about the ways we can contribute – these are actions that will help us to get on the U-shaped exit from the crisis,” pointed out Gill. She ended the session with a focus on gratitude, a highly important element of mental health, asking us all “to finish each day by identifying at least one thing for which we feel grateful for.”
Staying OK – How to be resilient
In another session, we learned about the implications of pressure and stress on our effectiveness in the workplace and how both can drive resilience. According to Gill, resilience is, “the part of us that enables us to succeed when we are faced with adversity – the capacity to bounce back or rebound.” There are three core, inter-dependent elements of resilience: thinking, emotions and behaviors/relationships. “Thinking is the one thing that cannot be taken from us in terms of how we perceive the situation. How we see the world is important for building our resilience and we need to be aware of a number of mistakes we can make by errors in thinking; such as black and white thinking, over generalization, catastrophizing, or jumping to conclusions; which are common qualities of depression and can push us out of the effectiveness zone,” Gill pointed out. She also talked about the five drivers, which form part of the transactional analysis (TA) model: “be perfect”, “hurry up”, “please others”, “try hard” and “be strong”. According to Gill, each person has these psychological drivers. Some people have one, while others have multiple and they affect how we complete work and perform our daily tasks. These drivers can either motivate us or be at the root of dysfunctional behaviors. They are hard to change, but our self-awareness of what drives us individually, helps us manage them.
Mental health is important at NiceLabel. It is rare for companies to invest in a resource like Gill and we believe that this is just one of the many things that makes NiceLabel a special place. Her insight and suggestions for coping with challenging situations are truly beneficial and we all look forward to what’s next as we continue grow and develop as a team. Interested in joining our growing, diverse and virtual team? Check out our open positions here and visit our About us page to learn more about the company.