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It should go without saying that everyone needs a little downtime now and then. Unplugging from work is necessary to reconnect to life. These days work is in your living room or your kitchen island. The schedule that the average American worker keeps when they work remotely has risen by three more hours per week. Even for workers who need to go into work, layoffs and the economic downturn has all workers pulling double shifts and putting in way more hours than they used to. We all need a little rest from 2020. Short of taking the rest of the year off to hide from what comes next, how can we help small business employees not feel bad about taking care of themselves?

Small business employees, unlike those from more corporate backgrounds, tend to have more loyalty towards their bosses. Usually, the boss they report to is the business owner, so that you can see why. When businesses are small, it’s a lot easier to see how one employee’s productivity impacts the rest of the company with more clarity. 

With these two facts in mind, many small business employees find it harder to make decisions to take care of themselves mentally. Work/Life balance is not just a buzzword that got thrown around in the last decade; it is truly something to strive for. COVID-19 has all but killed that balance. How can we help small business employees engaged with work and confident in taking time off when they need to?

Small Business Employees Are Feeling More Depressed In 2020

The number one most scary thing about COVID-19 with American workers is their mental health status. Most American workers reported have good mental health before 2020. Before the pandemic, those who said poor mental health were in the single digits. This year that figure has tripled. This tells us one thing; something has to change. 

The contributing factors for mental health changes are many. The working environment for the average American worker is much more isolated than before. About half of American workers are working out of their homes today. Some of these workers occupied coworking spaces or coffee shops when they needed social stimulation during working hours; they were all confined to home. For workers who live alone, this can impact the mental health status of lots of small business employees who have been socially isolated for an extended period. People need people, and being alone and in the same space takes its toll on anyone’s mind. 

Small business employees should feel confident asking for much-needed downtime, especially with added extra stressors this year. It could be the rut of isolation that may prevent your employees from asking for time off. Valuing your employees means making sure they take care of themselves. Even if they don’t take an entire week, even a couple of days of something different can do a world of good. 

Small Business Leaders Need To Model Good Self Care 

If you want your small business employees to feel good about taking care of themselves, you need to be the leader that takes care of him or herself. Your employees are not going to feel confident in asking for what they need for good self-care if their leader isn’t encouraging that behavior by doing it themselves.

If you are a small business leader who has not taken any time for yourself since March, it’s time to make some plans to recharge your batteries. It shouldn’t surprise you that no one has asked for a day off if you have not taken one in the last seven months. Even leaders need self-care. Let the change begin with you and log off of work for a couple of days.

Creating A Self Care Plan For Your Employees 

While you are planning your next couple of much needed days off, create a plan going forward for your employees. Start by announcing the need for self-care and create an online calendar for your employees to request time off. If you have never offered time off before, now is the time to revisit it. Not paying for time off is costing your company lost productivity and good employees. You aren’t saving money by preventing employees from taking care of themselves. You are shooting yourself in the foot. 

Secondly, create a strategy and a plan for self-care in the future. Encourage employees to get out for a walk during the day. Let them take that yoga class on Friday afternoons. Do what you can to help your employees feel good about putting their needs back on their calendar. 

You may also need to think about how you care for the employees who are not bouncing back mentally after a little R and R. Not everyone can rally emotionally on their own. If you notice some of your employees have been exhibiting personality changes or a new behavior impacting performance, you must act. 

Self-care plans for your employees need to include the kinds of benefits that offer mental health coverage and medical coverage. Having an EAP in place also provides intervention and the anonymity of your employees getting help but not coordinating it all yourself. Your employees are much more apt to seek care if they don’t have to go directly through you to get it.

Talking To Small Business Leaders About Good Mental Health Plans 

PEOs are the best way for small business leaders to make sure their small business employees have the mental health coverage they need, especially during these times. Most small group health plans do not offer this kind of coverage. PEOs pick up on mental health benefits and EAP programs where small group health plans fail. If you’d like to find out more about how PEOs can help your small business employees feel good about taking care of themselves and be able to afford it, contact us today for a free consultation.

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