How To Keep Your Employees Mentally Fit During Covid-19
At the time of writing this article, the number of coronavirus cases stood at 20 830 254 with 747 628 deaths and 13 725 260 recoveries. Although many countries in Europe have opened up their borders, a second wave is being seen in a number of parts of the world.
Although the number of recoveries far exceeds the number of global deaths, people are still incredibly anxious about contracting this disease and, as a result, are choosing to stay away from places in which other people gather.
One of these places is the workplace. In order to prevent the spread of the virus in working environments, governments across the world have instituted occupational health and safety (OHS) measures in these areas and employees are required to abide by them. If they are found not to be adhering to these regulations, in an effort to enforce adherence, they face fines, imprisonment or both.
These OHS protocols are all very well and good to ensure the physical health of employees; however, the question needs to be asked as to what effect this pandemic is having on their mental health.
The Social Nature Of Human Beings
As humans, we are social creatures and we love to talk and read more about everything we share. We thrive on interactions with other people and conversations with these people often stimulate new and creative thinking. However, with the new norm of social distancing, and people needing to interact with others behind the veil of a mask and a Perspex shield, what type of meaningful interaction – if any – takes place?
Tools – such as Zoom, Skype and Microsoft Teams – have been invaluable in terms of facilitating conversations between people. However, how ‘real’ is this interaction? Yes, it covers the essentials of communication, but it misses out on other cues such as:
- Body language: We only get to see the person from the shoulders up so we can’t see what their other body language is saying
- Tone of voice: This is often distorted by the quality of speakers or a bad Internet connection
- Facial expressions: Sometimes, it isn’t easy to see a person’s face with the clarity you would in person.
Listen To Your Employees
The best way to keep your employees’ mental health in check during this period is to listen to them. Take time to check in with them and find out how they’re doing. Encourage them not to put on a brave face and tell you everything is fine because by denying any problems you’re not solving them and – as a result – they become worse.
Contract with a psychologist or life coach who can also speak with your employees. Your staff members may be more inclined to speak with a third party as they could feel that these professionals will take the information that they tell them and not use it to harm their jobs.
Reports indicate that we’ll be seeing the mental fallout from Covid-19 long after we’ve found a vaccine and the health implications are a distant memory. That being said, we need to make sure that our employees don’t suffer unnecessarily right now.