High Anxiety

The pandemic has affected mental health, leading many staff to reevaluate their roles within your office culture.

"Many of my staff members are experiencing more stress and anxiety now than when the pandemic started. I’m not sure how to handle this. What do I do?”

These are difficult times, and it’s not surprising that many employees are experiencing significantly higher levels of stress than they did prior to the pandemic. In addition to—or in response to—higher levels of anxiety, many people are reevaluating their priorities, and this includes their employment.

The Society for Human Resource Management has given the term “Turnover Tsunami” to the phenomenon organizations are seeing with staff resignations. New candidates are asking whether positions can be performed fully remote, and if they can’t, they are no longer interested. Staff are saying they want more input in their jobs and decision-making, business casual or casual office attire, and more flexible hours.

Stressed Business Man with Laptop

© RUNSTUDIO / Moment / Getty Images

Keeping Staff Happy

The first response to any current staff member experiencing increased levels of anxiety should be to respond with empathy. Everyone is different; we all respond to stress and anxiety differently. We can’t expect people to respond the way we want; we can only expect them to respond as who they are.

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act as amended in 2009, anxiety and other mental and/or emotional health issues can be considered a disability if they limit one or more life functions. This might include an inability to sleep, a lack of concentration, a fear of interacting with the public, and other limitations.

If your association is covered under the ADA and an employee mentions suffering from anxiety or depression, suggest that the employee seek professional attention. The employee might need to go on short-term disability or make use of another accommodation.

Do you have an HR question? Send it to Carole Kaptur confidentially at ckaptur@nar.realtor.

Under the ADA, it is not legally necessary to produce medical documentation to consider someone disabled. If someone can perceive a disability, the law provides that we respond as if there is a disability. In the event there is such a situation in your association, be sure to reach out to an employment lawyer or an HR professional to discuss how to respond appropriately.

Use your active-listening skills to hear what your staff is saying and demonstrate understanding.

Accommodating Change

For staff looking for additional input, a more casual culture, or business casual attire, keep an open mind to their input and assess whether it makes sense to adjust. Any of these perks can boost staff morale and productivity. Ask yourself: Is it really necessary to require full business attire? Does the association have positions that lend themselves to remote work? If your workforce has demonstrated they can get the work done remotely, consider it.

AEs set the tone for their staff. You may be experiencing your own challenges, but it’s up to you lead, and that means adapting to the times. Use your active-listening skills to hear what your staff is saying and demonstrate understanding. Challenge yourself to look at things in a new way, and don’t stay with the status quo because it has worked in the past or you are uncomfortable with change. You can’t expect more from your staff than you give.

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