COVID-19 has put companies on the edge and has sent shockwaves through industries and the economy alike. However, its real impact has been on people, prompting employers to take heed of their employees’ health and safety during the pandemic. As the pandemic upends much of society and world of work, there is fear and uncertainty which has been compounded by a totally new routine – one where people have to work from home.
Our homes have turned into offices, gyms, schools and playgrounds, there is zero commutes, flexible work schedule, fresh home-made food, more family and personal time, better productivity – the benefits of work from home are plenty. However, the biggest flip side is that we are dealing with considerable uncertainty and change due to social isolation, financial worries, health threats and potential job losses. Nation-wide lockdown, the social distancing measures and home quarantine have made people more isolated than ever before and the impact of this on the mental health of the workforce cannot be underestimated.
In a recent survey conducted by the Indian Psychiatry Society, there has been a sudden rise in the number of people suffering from mental illnesses. If you think the impact of coronavirus on employees’ mental health will subside once new infections slow down, think again. We can adjust with the new ways of working, we can give people protective gear or have them work from home, but the toll this situation takes on the mental health could last a while.
What Should Business Leaders Really Be Doing?
The pandemic is turning out to be a critical leadership stress test. The ability of business leaders to weather the coronavirus outbreak lies in their adaptability, resilience and collaborative potential to lay the groundwork for strategies to minimise the impact of COVID-19 on their people and performance and help them manage through the next phae wit their jobs and health. Indian companies are rethinking their employee-wellness strategies by prioritising employee well-being – physical, psychological and emotional – to keep their employees motivated and engaged. They have come with novel ideas – ranging from psychological counselling and online yoga and meditation sessions to virtual happy hours and team lunches/coffee breaks.
In this time of severe disruption, employees need steady leadership, one that prioritises speed and agility over elegance – but that’s also when it’s most difficult to lead. The employers and leaders need to go the extra mile to encourage and support their employees. Most importantly, business leaders must remember that caring for employees’ mental health is a shared responsibility – everyone including employers, managers, and employees have a part to play.
5 Concrete Ways Business Leaders Can Help
Business leaders need to be hyper-focused on the importance of keeping people physically and mentally healthy since organisations are fundamentally dependent on the agility, adaptive capacity, and emotional well-being of their people. The COVID-19 crisis has brought this need into sharper focus and encouraged companies to amp up their efforts to create an environment of transparency while staying focused and collaborative. An important question that springs up during the current pandemic is what specific actions can business leaders undertake to help employee mental health? Let’s find out.
Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way
Coronavirus outbreak has left a deep psychological burden but the global business community’s incredibly agile, humanistic, unified response is a near-miracle. The crisis has caused us to view our employees in the most human, and holistic, way along with valuable lessons to learn that should not go to waste. Planning for the post-pandemic new reality will be a challenge, and opportunity, for all of us — but that’s for tomorrow. Today is for protecting your employees’ health and wellbeing, focusing on your managers and leading with purpose. The mental health crisis stemming from COVID-19 is serious; only time will tell the real impact. We should be prepared to handle it with compassion, honesty, and openness.