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Melbourne Business School News How business leaders can support employee wellbeing during COVID-19

How business leaders can support employee wellbeing during COVID-19

Taking the time to set your own priorities as a leader will help your employees cope during COVID-19, says Professor Jill Klein.

"I think that leaders need to be very aware of the extra strain that their employees are under as we go through COVID-19," she says.

"It's just not possible for everyone to do everything that they always used to do before all this happened."

Professor Klein teaches leadership, decision-making and resilience at Melbourne Business School and Melbourne Medical School and says it's important for leaders to support employee wellbeing even as restrictions begin to ease.

"Your employees simply cannot bear the brunt of this pandemic on your business. They're not going to be able to shoulder all of that," she says.

One of the most effective things senior leaders can do is decide what's essential and what's not, and keep people focused on only the most important information. For leaders stuck in the middle, Professor Klein suggests trying to help those above you to prioritise.

"One thing you can do is ask your leaders, ask your bosses, what's most important to them," she says.

"Try and encourage them to prioritise. Ask them, 'What is the most important thing that you need for me and my team to deliver by the end of this week, or next week?'"

Once the priorities are set, Professor Klein suggests finding ways to nurture and encourage positive emotions across the team.

"A lot of research on wellbeing and mental health tells us that experiencing positive emotion while going through adversity is very important," she says.

"So you need to try to find opportunities, even remotely through team meetings, to share a laugh or to support one another."

One exercise that can help is taking time to reflect on what went well every day, among all the challenges of working from home.

"At the end of the day, think of three things that went well, and why, and write those things down," Professor Klein says.

"What this exercise helps us do is get in the habit of noticing positive things. If you know that, at the end of the day, you're going to have to come up with three positive things, you start looking for them, and that helps us experience more positive emotion."

Watch the above video interview with Professor Klein to learn more.

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