Corona Stressed Expats: How to take care of them?

In these turbulent times, many people are worried and stressed. For example, people wonder what they are still allowed to do, or what they should do if they become sick. Many also feel lonely or worry about their weaker relatives, etc. This can be even more intense for expats, because their family and friends are often far away from them and some haven’t completely settled in. In this article, we'll give you some suggestions on how to deal with corona stressed expats.

Stay in touch as much as possible

The most important thing you can do as an employer is to keep the communication flowing. If you do not know what is going on with your employees, you cannot help them. Even though we are so far apart right now, we have never been more connected. This is something that you can take advantage of. Do not only communicate about work related matters. Ask your employee whether everything is going well in their personal life and whether they have any concerns. Whatever it is about; stay connected. It’s also very important to keep them informed about how the company is doing. There are a lot of people who are concerned about their financial future and whether they can keep their jobs. You are the one who can take this concern away or search for a solution with them. Whatever the situation is, clarity brings peace.

Focus on what you can influence

Many things are outside of our control. Take the corona pandemic for example. Appropriate measures related to the current situation are constantly being drawn up and changed. And, we must adhere to them. It is difficult to know if you will fall ill, so there is no point in worrying about this. This is of course easier said than done, and you cannot possibly know everything your employees are thinking. But what you can do is give your employees a safe workplace where they feel comfortable. Do they want to work at home? Let them work at home and offer them what they need. For example, equipment such as a laptop, mouse, and keyboard. See also ‘5 tips to encourage a healthy work environment for your employees’ . But if they prefer to be in the office, with 1 or 2 colleagues around them, see if it is possible to set up a workplace in the office that meets the measures the cabinet has drawn up. Being 'among people' again can help enormously for your mood.

Be flexible in working hours and breaks

When you are under stress, rest is extremely important. Of course, the agreed working hours should simply be made, but be flexible in what time your employees start and when they take a break. Adequate moments of rest in between tasks are important to avoid burnout. For example, let them take a walk more often to recharge. Moreover, the family and friends of certain expats may live in another time zone. Give them the opportunity to video call them during working hours. For example, the employee can pick up that lost time again in the evening. Or maybe someone wants to go to a sports class that takes place in the park in the middle of the day, do not immediately say no to this, but talk about this together. Such a small thing can greatly please an employee and therefore make him or her more productive.

Plan a ‘worrying quarter’ with all your employees

Some may not need this. Then just let them get coffee, do some exercises or take a walk. But for those employees who can use it, worrying quarters can help enormously. In this quarter they can write down everything that is in their head. It doesn't matter what. Whether it is work-related or private, everything has to be on paper. It may seem strange, but this can help you gain more control over your thoughts. After all, many of these thoughts seem to be out of your control: they just pop into your head. That can be very cumbersome, because often those thoughts are negative. Moreover, they are not always based on objective facts. So, it is absolutely worthwhile to pause for a moment and be aware of these thoughts from time to time. It often helps to simply put it on paper. If there is anything they want to talk to someone about, give your employees the opportunity to do it with you or a trusted person. What is important about the worry quarter is that after these fifteen minutes they have to put their thoughts aside and focus on their work again.

Introduce your employees to mindfulness

Last but not least, let your employees do mindfulness exercises during the working day and afterwards. By doing this, they experience less stress and they have more peace of mind. The perfect way to relax corona-stressed expats! There are several ways to apply this. You can have an online mindfulness session once, after which your employees receive 'homework' assignments. You can let them take a mindfulness course and reimburse it (in part). Or you let them install a mindfulness app on their phone, such as Headspace or the ' VGZ Mindfulness coach app'. In short, there are plenty of ways to calm down stressed employees. Don’t only be the employer, but also a listening ear. Especially in uncertain times, this is extremely important to keep your employees motivated, happy and productive.

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