Many firms will have had their staff on furlough during lockdown, but as some return to work, it is important to look after their mental health.
There is no doubt the coronavirus crisis has put a huge strain on millions of people. While a break from work or school might have actually come as a relief for some people not enjoying either experience, for most this has been a time of huge worry.
Negative emotion has been an inevitable and defining feature of the crisis. While there have been heartwarming moments like the newly knighted Captain Tom’s fundraising and the Thursday night ‘claps for carers’, for many the last few months have been a mixture of shock, fear, despair, loneliness and doubt.
This has taken many forms:
- Fear of catching and even dying from the virus
- Fear of loved ones suffering from the virus
- For some, the actual experience of losing someone to COVID-19
- Worry that ‘normal’ life may not return for a very long time
- Fear of losing a job
- Financial worries
- Loneliness and isolation, especially for those living alone
All this can be quite traumatic, and the mental scars may not go away quickly.
Opening up may only bring partial relief
For some, the opening up of parts of the economy through July will bring some respite. The re-opening of hairdressing salons, pubs and cinemas will mean many people returning to work, reuniting them with workplaces and colleagues they had not seen for months.
However, whether your staff are returning this month or later in the year, many will do so on the back of months of carrying the burdens of Coronavirus angst. Just as working conditions will remain somewhat different to ‘normal’, it will also be unwise to imagine that all the mental damage done will always melt away.
While some people will show high levels of resilience to adjust and bounce back, others will be struggling and this could have a negative affect on productivity and output at a time when employers will need their staff to perform well to help the recovery.
This will also apply to bosses themselves, who may have spent much of the last few months worrying about the future of their businesses as well as all the other fears and problems of lockdown.
Good mental health means a strong recovery
All this is why now can be a very good time to invest in mental health training such as that provided by Daryl Woodhouse.
If your workforce can be aided to deal with their struggles, given the support they need, but also trained to think positively about the future even in a time of great uncertainty, you can be more confident that they can help you and the firm ride out the storm.
Eventually, whether through a gradual fall in infections, antiviral developments or a successful vaccine emerging, the crisis will end. The companies that have done the best to help their staff build up their mental resilience will then be the ones in the strongest position to enjoy the fruits of an economy in recovery and a time of renewed hope and optimism.