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  • Natalie Atkin

Mental Health and Why it’s all about HEART

We have been educated for many years now on the importance of having businesses that are agile, businesses that can adapt to an environment change almost instantly. In the blink of an eye, our businesses have had to react to Covid-19, changing our operations, embracing technology and immobilising our business. We got a big tick for the rate in which we have been able to enact these plans, so it’s business as usual, right?

While we have equipped our business operations with cutting edge technology and capabilities, have we done the same for our employees? How many of us have workforces that are equipped, mentally, for operation in these unprecedented times? Employers included. I certainly know that in January, I wasn’t mentally equipping myself to spend all day, every day, at home, or go on to navigate a rapidly changing world of COVID restrictions.

We are in uncharted territory; each business and every employee will react differently to the forced changes. Actions and reactions may change over time as well. What was fine this week, might not be fine next week. In trying to cut through the noise of mental health in the workplace, we took some time out recently to watch a webinar hosted by HR Coach and facilitated by Acacia EAP. They introduced us to the HEART model, an adaptation from the Harvard Business Review, that provides some simple guidance on ways we can ease the burden during this time.


It is important that your employees know you care. Showing you care about them, more than profit is key in retaining engagement. We are wired to connect with other humans, it’s part of our biology, this has been thrown into disarray, we have, for the most part, removed socialisation from our lives. Finding ways to connect with your team is SO important. I’m sure we are now all using some kind of video conference software, but how effective are you being in ensuring that you ask HOW people are feeling, not just work chat.

Meet more often, connect everyday if you can. Maybe you can facilitate an online fun session, Friday drinks, or another kind of social meeting that your employees can engage in?


Training and development should not be forgotten about, with training and development linked to self-efficacy, learning and development can be a great way to keep your employees engaged and productive. Developing soft-skills, mindfulness in particular, can also reduce stress and provide a coping mechanism during times of stress. The majority of training has been moved to an online format; if anything, COVID-19 has provided us with a real opportunity to invest in our workforce.

Assure Stability

As business owners and managers, we all have fears and worries about the future. Unfortunately, airing these with your employees can be detrimental. While it is important for employers and managers to debrief, it is better to present a united front to your employees. Being able to focus your employees on your service offering, the part of the business that your employees know and love will be much more effective in motivating them.

Revolutionise Offerings

The options can be limitless, and it is not just your business that can revolutionise offerings, your employees can too. A move to a different department, new challenges, a chance to build on skills and experiences. Taking care of your employees' mental health will enable a more creative workplace.

New revolutionary ideas are born in climates like Covid-19, with (potentially) more time to think and be creative, there is no time like the present. The quote that I heard recently was ‘the best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago, the second-best time is now’ – I think that pretty much says it all!

Tackle the future

While there is no timeline for life getting back to normal, and we don’t know what the new normal will look like, we can’t afford to get stuck in the moment. Plan your recovery. What can your business look like post-COVID-19?

One thing, which we have touched on before, is the rebuilding of workforces. It is expected that a large number of applications will be received for vacancies. It will be a huge task for businesses to find the right people for their business.

If you feel like you, or one of your employees may need some further assistance, Acacia Connection EAP has developed free resources to help us through this time, you can download these at or make an appointment via their online services.

The most important thing is that we look out for each other, having a strong support network is integral to us all getting through this.

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