One of the most anticipated days of the year is here: Election Day. Amidst an already unprecedented year with a global pandemic, loss of jobs, social unrest, widespread wildfires, and more – we are facing a unique election. With endless news cycle, fears around pandemic voting, and uncertainties around results, you and your employees may be feeling overwhelmed, or even helpless. But you’re not alone. Research has found that the time around an election increases the levels of stress across the nation — regardless of who will be getting our vote. With constant media coverage and debates in the home, workplace, or on social platforms, along with concerns about how the result of the election will affect our lives and society, all have the potential to have a negative impact on our well-being. In a recent survey by the American Psychological Association (APA), 68% of U.S. adults said that the 2020 U.S. presidential election is a significant source of stress in their life (a jump from 52% in 2016).
This election, in addition to other ongoing and everyday stressors, may leave employees feeling like they have no control, little ability to predict their future, and feel uncertain about their lives or lives of their loved ones after today. While you may not have control over the news coverage or election outcomes, you do have control over how you can extend compassion and support to your employees. Modern Health, a one stop shop for employees mental health needs, offers some ways that you can help your teams.
- Acknowledge and Validate: It may feel like the best thing to do is avoid bringing up the election with your employees, but in fact the opposite will be most helpful. By acknowledging the election, and recognizing the weight it holds, and the mental toll it may be taking on them, you will help them feel seen, heard, and validated.
- Extend Support and Flexibility: Schedule office hours during, and after election week, and reach out to any existing Employee Resource Group leads to extend this support. Consider offering flexibility during election week to provide space to cope with potentially strong emotions.
- Involve Managers: Often, managers may have closer relationships with individual employees than HR. Encourage managers to check-in during weekly 1 :1’s, and avoid scheduling pivotal meetings during the week of the election.
- Offer Resources: Guide employees in need of support toward resources that can help. Modern Health is offering group-based support for all during this time. They are providing a series of therapist-led Circles designed as a safe, non-partisan space, led by a Modern Health therapist, to learn how to identify what you need most when it comes to US election-related stress. There are four live groups being hosted throughout the month of November, and anyone can register and join for free. This is a a great resource to share with employees in your weekly announcements or newsletters. Register here: https://circles.modernhealth.com/series/election-support#Upcoming-Circles
And while you and your team are busy acting as gatekeepers, focused on listening, understanding, and providing for your employees, don’t forget to create space for yourself and to decompress. Block off “me time” on your calendar; Reflect on and limit interactions or media that you notice impact your mood; Challenge negative thoughts by reflecting, interrupting, and reframing spiraling negative thoughts. Learn to let your emotions pass through you, rather than avoiding them, which can create more distress. Connect purposefully with others, and plan for alone time, as needed. And, if stress is impacting your routine, relationships, or ability to focus, it may be worth seeking support from a mental healthcare professional.