Written by Jean Alyssa
The pandemic had a negative impact on many people, but it has been especially stressful for employees. As the world went on lockdown, working conditions changed just as rapidly. From working at the office, people suddenly had to get used to working from home along with the challenges that it came with. In fact, research shows that employees experienced significant negative mental health effects as a result of COVID-19, with stressors like the perception of safety, tackling the unknown, financial loss, and job security among others. These stressors were also moderated by organisational, institutional, and individual factors.
Helping employees manage their pandemic-related stressors is essential for their wellbeing and the productivity of your business. Here’s how to do just that:
Use technology to offer mental health resources
Technology is probably the greatest existing enabler today. It allows businesses, employees and other stakeholders to continue operations despite severe limitations brought on by the health crisis. From collaboration tools to video conferencing platforms where colleagues can discuss work, there are a variety of technological advancements that can and have simplified work, even from home. These tools also allow employees to maintain relationships, not just with colleagues but with friends and family, despite the pandemic.
Technology has also made it easier for employers to offer mental health services. Many therapists have also gone digital, holding teletherapy and online counselling sessions in the wake of the mental health crisis. Companies can invest in more comprehensive mental health resources to provide their remote employees, including having licensed therapists on call, meditation platforms, and virtual education to teach employees coping and stress management skills.
Provide small material acts of support
Providing small acts of support can mean plenty for employees who are stressed and struggling. The right environment can help reduce stress, including mitigating pain and discomfort in working spaces that do not offer the same ergonomics as well-designed offices do. To ensure your employees remain comfortable while they do their work from home, investing in ergonomic accessories can help by avoiding common injuries like carpal tunnel or lower back problems that can add to more stress.
The negative effect of poor working posture is not as noticeable until much later, so it’s better to invest in these tools for your employees early on. You can provide small accessories, such as lumbar support pillows, wrist rests, and convertible laptop stands. By doing so, you allow your employees to be productive without dealing with chronic stress from pain for which they might have to seek costly medical assistance.
Have a clear plan
Job security is one of the greatest stressors of employees today, especially in industries that are at risk of closing due to mandated lockdowns. It is important to always keep employees informed of business plans, including any work disruptions that may be implemented in compliance with public health guidelines. Furthermore, keeping employees informed of plans you have in place for industry changes or illnesses within the organisation will show them that you’re looking ahead and are looking out for them.
Effective information dissemination is key, so consider compiling this information in a more visible online location, like a shared driver or company newsletter, for easy access. Direct employees to these resources as often as possible so that everybody remains updated on pertinent information related to their work. Don’t forget to keep employees in the loop when it comes to plans for the organisation’s reactivation once the pandemic restrictions are lifted. They will expect company leaders to know exactly what to do once operations resume.