Caring For Employees’ Mental Wellness Is Vital During The COVID-19 Crisis


As the guidance for COVID-19 continues to impact every aspect of our personal and business lives, we are forced to think about our finances, health and household preparations as well as adjust to a new normal that includes working from home and being with our loved ones in a confined space 24/7.  All of this is taking a toll on our emotional well-being, whether we admit it or not.

This became loud and clear to me at the beginning of last week. Unlike many other companies, my firm FWDthink was already set up for remote work as a contingency and operations were proceeding as normal. While holding a business development call with my team to discuss our strategy for handling the growing pandemic, I almost immediately realized that morale was very low, and my team’s energy was off. 

As a firm believer in the Law of Attraction, I know that if your energy is down, but you attempt to do something that requires your energy to be up, you will only attract more down into your life. I decided we needed to reset and take a recess, a virtual one to be specific.  I sent my team an email indicating that we would be taking a week or possibly two off from our regular work duties. Instead, we would focus on shifting our energy. We spent the last week talking through the things that were concerning to us and really focusing on what we are grateful for and what we love about our lives and our work.  I planned an agenda for the week that allowed for group activities and calls on Monday, Wednesday and Friday as well as meditations and individual activities on Tuesday and Thursday. I kept the schedule open and encouraged the members of my team to sleep in late, take naps, have baths, watch TV, read books, do crafts, cook, anything that would help lift their spirits.

After this first week, I noticed that their outlook on life has significantly improved. Taking time for self-care and support reminded them to appreciate what they have and to not get caught up with things they can’t control.  For the second week, we will focus on innovation and ideation. We will be making lists and talking through ideas concerning how we as a business can pivot and diversify during the coronavirus pandemic. I believe by the end of the second week, we will have a new product or service to roll out that will be helpful during the pandemic and will give the company a new revenue stream.  We will continue to practice the Recess concept virtually for the foreseeable future, at least once a week and then maybe once per month in perpetuity.

It’s critical to check on your people, to acknowledge their feelings and states of being, to facilitate discussions, healing and a path forward.  I am a Leo and an entrepreneur. I am optimistic (some say too much!) by nature and I was raised by parents who taught me to take life seriously but not be consumed by things that are out of your control. I try to live by their advice, but I also know everyone isn’t like me.  Providing a safe space for your family and your team to process these unprecedented times is mandatory.  We should all be implementing some type of program like the Virtual Recess.  And we are here to help you create your own version or facilitate a program for you.

Rabiah Sutton is the founder and CEO of FWDthink, an award-winning consulting and advisory services firm that specializes in performance improvement and strategic planning for government contractors. She is an expert business strategist and coach who holds a M.B.A from John Hopkin’s University and a B.A. from American University.

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