COVID19 and the workplace

By Joan Freeman

The Corona Virus has forced us as a society to face difficult and challenging changes to the way we communicate, perform, and to our everyday environment. But it is really important that we do not waste a good pandemic! Because these changing times can make us better – it is usually during this time of dislocation and disconnection provides us with our greatest period or growth.

Research will tell us that the most successful way of coping with change is through employee engagement.  One of the areas that needs to be addressed is the psychological health and safety of an organization’s employees.  Basically, our life has changed……. the mental health issues that might have occurred before are very different now since the Covid virus has hit us.

Not only is the causation of the issues different, but the whole set up and structure of a company is different. The issues that now face men and women in the corporate world are issues that we probably would never have thought of.  For example, staff who may never have displayed mental health signs before are now experiencing stress, anxiety, and fear all at the one time.

Staff who may never have displayed mental health signs before are now experiencing stress, anxiety, and fear all at the one time.

People are faced with new realities – working from home, temporary or even permanent unemployment, home-schooling of children, lack of physical contact with extended family and friends.

The increase in alcohol consumption has also added to the increase in mental health issues. The relationship fall-out for so many couples has emerged that will inevitably lead to separation or divorce. And for those who may have had mental health problems anyway could be suffering now even more so because the external support that was once there before the beginning of March has now closed down. 

The thing is we do not know how this pandemic is really affecting individuals. Some people have loved the lockdown, – less commuting to work, no traffic, no one breathing down their necks. Others have despised the lockdown, hated having to juggle work and children at the one time, misses the adult interaction, or may need the certain stress levels or the buzz of an office environment to be productive. 

But again, we do not know what the effect is – we are guessing or at best it is anecdotal.

Companies need to deal seriously with the psychological fitness of their employees – they need to undertake a deep dive review.  In this strange new world, this audit/psychological health thermometer will reassure, record and inform a company how their employees are coping with the ongoing Covid issues but also the after-effects of this pandemic.

This measurement tool will be able to dictate where a company might need to go next, what steps to follow, and more importantly it will be used as an exciting tool that really listens to the needs of the staff and really informs the employer of how to support its employees. This review will look at the two areas that employee psychological health can be impacted at work – Design (workload, co-worker relationships, supervisory support, autonomy) and Individual Factors (practicing self-care, nurturing positive relationships, recognizing positive experiences).  

Once a thorough examination of the work Design and Individual factors are collated and examined, a full report showing the findings will be submitted along with recommendations of next step