Dealing with uncertainty in uncertain times
With a pandemic of COVID-19 affecting the world, many changes are being made. These changes are significant and forces us to rethink and rearrange everything. What we all should be aware of is that not everyone is good at dealing with these changes. A pandemic will demand significant changes to work arrangements, and these new arrangements can introduce mental health and additional stress risks to employees.
How to deal with the cards we’re dealt
We’ve outlined the most common reactions of people that can be caused by an outbreak: Anxiety, fear, and distress; Unfamiliar work & higher workloads; Confusion and contradicting information from the media, and Personal loss & grief. For us, as a company focused on wellbeing in the workplace, let’s dive a bit deeper into the abovementioned reactions.
The anxiety, fear and distress that people feel should not be taken lightly. Everyone copes with bad news differently and these feelings can fluctuate, even throughout the day. Make sure that people do not isolate themselves and check-in on those who live alone by calling them instead of just messaging them.
When it comes to working, it is the employer/manager’s role to ensure that their people are supported. Not everyone has the proper tools to work from home, so, if financially possible, make sure that they do. But that’s not all. As schools are closing, those with families should also be able to take care of themselves and their families. It’s not just about taking care, but also providing their kids with entertainment, home-schooling and more. Employers need to be flexible about the work hours as 9-5 may no longer be practical for all employees. However, those without home commitments or children should also be cared for. Ensure they are not picking up the complete workload of others as this puts them at a much higher risk of burnout. Balance is key. Make sure that everyone who is able to work is comfortable doing so. Again, times are very different and no-one knows what’s really happening, uncertain times should be handled with flexibility and calm.
The 3 C’s: Counsel, consult and console
As we always want to practice what we preach, we’ve introduced the following options for our own team. These are all optional, of course, let’s break them down:
- Consultation with affected employees
- Flexibility in workloads, working arrangements, and personal leave
- Online training
- Clear performance expectations
- Close supervision and support
- Up to date information regarding public health changes
- Transparency in our dealings with an outbreak
- Support services such as counselling
Another thing that we can’t stress enough: falling ill is no one’s fault. Everyone should feel supported through these difficult times. While we’re usually preaching our three B’s – Building, Body, Business; during this outbreak we also rely on our three C’s: making sure that people are available to counsel, consult or console.
You don’t have to be a doctor to support your people with the three C’s, but you do need a doctor when facing physical or mental health concerns. Ensure you’re referring your people to expert help when required.