Encouraging Your Employees to Ask for Help

The Stress of COVID-19

The stress and uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic is taking its toll on employees, both mentally and physically. Living in a state of constant stress and fear leads to feelings of being overwhelmed and anxious, both of which make focusing on work tasks and staying productive nearly impossible.

Typically, when we feel like we are on the edge of our breaking point, we reach out to close family members and friends for help. However, there is a stigma surrounding asking for help in the workplace. Now more than ever, though, it’s important for employees to feel comfortable asking for help when they need it.

Debunk the Myths

In a recent Harvard Business Review article, Vanessa K. Bohns, an associate professor of Organizational Behavior at the ILR School at Cornell University, explains that there are three main myths about asking for help that employees believe.

  • “Asking for help makes you look bad”
  • “If I Do Ask for Help, I’ll Be Rejected”
  • “Even if Someone Agrees to Help, They Won’t Enjoy Doing So”

As we stated above, these common thoughts are myths. In your next virtual meeting or conference call, take the time to debunk these myths. Have an open discussion about asking for help and see how employees feel about it. To help guide your discussion, here are three researched-backed points outlined by Bohns:

  • While asking for help exposes our limitations and vulnerabilities, it also shows a level of maturity and competence to recognize when we need assistance. You can even site this study that proved asking a teammate for help had no negative impact on the way that employee was perceived.
  • The fear of hearing “no” shouldn’t hold you back from asking for help. Research has shown time and time again that people are not only willing to help others, but they will often go out of their way to put as much effort into helping others as they can.
  • Asking for assistance is not an inconvenience to others. In fact, researchers describe the good feelings that follow as “the “warm glow” of helping.” Being needed and having the ability to help others can instantly boost one’s mood and even contribute to overall wellbeing.

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