Joanna is CEO of Quartz Properties, a residential real estate development firm working to make the home buying process simple and enjoyable.
For the past year, we have changed our sense of normalcy in an attempt to stop the spread and flatten the curve. From the oldest to the youngest members of our society, the strain has been tremendous. We’ve adopted titles that we never thought we would need to embrace, and we have fought hard to keep our levels of productivity high.
Illness and death rates for the Covid-19 virus are staggering, but the true impact of this global pandemic is even more widespread. A recent Kaiser Family Foundation study reports that nearly half of all adults in America reported symptoms of anxiety and/or depression after the pandemic began in 2020. This is an exponential change to numbers from a similar time period in 2019, during which approximately one in 10 people reported the same symptoms.
This unprecedented global crisis has changed more than the way we shop, travel and visit other people. The core of our daily rhythm has been altered. It begs the question, how can we, as managers and those in real estate and corporate leadership positions, protect our employees? In what ways can we reach out to those who are suffering?
Emotional Intelligence In Leadership
Emotional intelligence, also known as emotional quotient or EQ, allows us to use, understand and manage emotions to better communicate and overcome challenges and conflict. Most often, the term emotional intelligence is used to explain your own social awareness and ability to be empathetic towards others. When in a position of leadership, your emotional intellect allows you to reach out to others within your organization when you feel that something may be amiss.
We focus an extreme amount of attention on our intelligence and the intelligence of our employees within our specific business parameters. But acquiring the emotional intelligence to skillfully lead teams has never been more important than it is now. With fewer people congregating at the office physically, it can be difficult to look for the social cues that we often innately notice during real-life interactions. However, there are ways to transfer your emotional intelligence skill set to conference calls and Zoom meetings.
For instance, is an employee being quieter during meetings? Are team members hesitant to share ideas when they were typically outspoken? Is someone appearing more frazzled than usual? We may have fewer cues in a digital environment, but they are still there, and as employers we need to be more attuned to subtle cues.
The importance of a work-life balance has been touted for years. Through the Covid-19 pandemic, more organizations are suddenly understanding their place in protecting the emotional health of their employees. It is critical to day-to-day operations that our teams are thriving and not just surviving. Companies that are able to redirect resources to manufacture creative work environments and schedules that allow work to flow around the demands of life during the pandemic will excel. This may mean investing in equipment so remote working is more streamlined or establishing programs that allow employees to make use of emergency medical leave for sickness as well as child care gaps and mental health days.
Deloitte gives this hypothesis for 2021 following the results of its Global Human Capital Trends survey: “COVID-19 has reminded us of the dual imperatives of worker well-being and work transformation, but executives are still missing the importance of connecting the two. Organizations that integrate well-being into the design of work at the individual, team, and organizational levels will build a sustainable future where workers can feel and perform at their best.”
The Long-Lasting Effects Of The Pandemic On The Mental Health Of Our Teams
We must allow for flexibility, right now and moving forward. This means providing tangible resources that help our teams to continue to flourish. It will take leaders opening up and admitting that they too are struggling with working from home while virtual schooling. It might mean that flexibility in payment schedules and physical schedules have to be ongoing.
Constant news cycles berate us, and we must allow space to process. Deadlines and work results are important, but they cannot be held tantamount to the mental health of those we spend time with every day. Allow time for your employees to breathe through “simulated” commutes or scheduled mental health breaks. We must find time to step away and unplug in order to come back refreshed for more success.
Our employees are also parents and caregivers and members of a broader community. Collectively, we are all picking up the pieces left behind by the pandemic, but we are also determined to move forward in strength.