omicron messaging header
Marcie Hopkins, University of Utah Health
leadership
How to Support Your Teams During Omicron Surge
Chief Wellness Officer Amy Locke and Resiliency Center Director Megan Call share evidence-based discussion points and strategies informed by the collective wisdom of the last two years supporting U of U Health.
It’s

hard to know the right thing to say these days. As we enter the Omicron surge, the Resiliency Center has been bombarded with questions about how to support teams at this challenging time. In response, we’ve compiled the following evidence-based discussion points and strategies for leaders informed by the collective wisdom of the last two years. In other words, we’ve been here before. We’ve learned what works and what doesn’t—and we’re happy to help. 

Discussion Points

Name It

  • Acknowledging our experience helps us calm our nervous system. 

  • Naming the emotions that many of us are experiencing (exhaustion, fear, anxiety, anger) helps us feel seen and heard.  

  • Be transparent and feel free to acknowledge our current situation in the broader context of things, but do not explain how everything will be better soon.  

  • Uncertainty remains regarding future disruptions. 

Be Realistic

  • Most of us are overwhelmed. We will not be able to hold ourselves to our usual standards. We can encourage people to do what they can—and that will have to be enough.  

  • Give people permission to not be perfect with every task. 

Be Thoughtful
  • Stop and pause. When crises occur, we tend to be reactive and try to fix as much as we can at once. This comes from a place of caring but sometimes makes things worse.  

  • Give yourself space to make thoughtful decisions when possible. (See the “What can I do for my team?” section below.) 

Be Accountable
  • Even in a crisis, we can be accountable for our words and actions.  

  • Acknowledging when we’ve made a mistake and apologizing will go far. We will all mess up, especially when we’re exhausted.  

  • Accountability is essential during a crisis, but it doesn’t have to be punitive.  

Connect with One Another
  • Encourage people to check-in with one another to make sure they are doing ok and feeling supported. Throughout the pandemic, teams that feel connected often have done better.

  • Model by listening and understanding the concerns of your team and, if possible, address their concerns. 

Care for Yourself
  • It starts with you. To be maximally successful, we have to continue caring for ourselves. It is what will save the most lives and do the least damage in the coming weeks.    

  • Share how you are taking care of yourself to give your team permission to do the same.  

  • Engage in discussion around self-care (whether that is exercising, getting enough sleep, or using the bathroom during a shift) to normalize behavior. 

What can I do for my team?  

These six questions can help prioritize and guide action. The first five are particularly useful in times of crisis.  

Questions to ask Why it helps
1. Does your team feel a strong sense of connection? Connection is a key ingredient for groups that are doing well.  
2. Does your team feel supported (by you, each other, the department/ system)? Do they feel seen, valued, and heard?   Communication, recognition and support can occur in many ways.
3. Do they have an opportunity to debrief about their experiences?  Reach out for help from the Resiliency Center if needed. 
4. Does the department/division/clinic have the resources needed to succeed?  Be an advocate for resources even when resources are scarce. Allow yourself to be creative

5. Are you able to identify the biggest obstacles for your group? 

Pick one issue to work on (not fix) to address an upstream driver of burnout/ dissatisfaction. 
6. Are you discussing professional development in a coaching framework? Support a connection to purpose that also has a direction

What if someone on my team is really struggling?  

There are a wealth of resources available for those in crisis or in urgent need of help. As always, stay connected by visiting the Resiliency Center updates on Pulse.

Crisis Resources 

Huntsman Mental Health Institute (HMHI) 

  • Crisis Line: 801-587-3000, available 24/7, 365 days/yr 

  • Warm Line: 801-587-1055, available 8am-11pm, 365 days/yr 

  • SafeUT Frontline: 801-372-3335 or https://safeut.org/frontline 

Employee Assistance Program  

  • Phone: 801-262-9619, this is also a crisis line 24/7, 365 days/yr 

  • Daily Crisis Appointments Available, includes 1-hour/day at the Resiliency Center 

  • CALL AHEAD to schedule an appointment, do not walk-in 

National Crisis Call & Text Lines 

  • Call 800-273-8255 

  • Text HOME to 741741 

Urgent Resources 

Contributors

Megan Call

Licensed psychologist, Director of the Resiliency Center, University of Utah Health

Amy Locke

Family Physician, Chief Wellness Officer and Executive Director, Resiliency Center, University of Utah Health

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