How leaders can protect Employees Mental Health during COVID-19

COVID-19, a pandemic is of an intensity that none of us have ever witnessed in our lifetime. Due to the risk of person-to-person transmission, the governments across the globe announced “lockdowns”, which led most corporates and IT companies to ask their employees to work-from-home. 

Initially, work-from-home might sound like an exciting idea and it does have many advantages like:

However, given the current situation of uncertainty and social distancing, WFH can actually have a more negative impact on the employee’s emotional and mental well-being. For most people, it has actually increased the workload with children staying at home, old parents to be taken care of, no domestic help and pressure from office. Stress due to coronavirus has also increased anxiety levels which can highly affect productivity.

No matter the hassle of reaching the office or meeting certain “annoying” people, office is still buzzing with energy and there are always these colleagues who can act as stress busters. You can also use and recommend Wysa for managing any stress that one may be experiencing.

Small “coffee breaks”, office gossips, ventilation, “dressing-up” for office, making plans with colleagues for the Friday-night party. All of this helps break the monotony of life and keep the morale of the employee high. Some more  disadvantages of WFH are:

Why Should The Organization Look After Employees?

Human beings are social animals, we need a sense of connectedness to survive and thrive. Emil Durkheim, a famous sociologist living in the 19th century postulated that a lack of connectedness or social integration creates a sense of anomie or meaninglessness, that can lead an individual to take the extreme step of harming themselves or committing suicide[1]

In the era of globalization, where we spent most of our waking hours in offices/doing professional work, our sense of belongingness stems more from the organization we work in, the friends and colleagues in the office – they become our “families”. Dr. Brene Brown defines connectedness as “the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard and valued…”[2]. And this connection becomes all the more vital in times of stress and uncertainty. 

Apart from usual mental health issues and anxieties related to the COVID-19 illness, some of the other issues that employees working in the private sector may face:

Thus, it becomes imperative for the organization to ensure the physical and mental well-being of their employees. 

Tips for leaders to take care of the Mental Health of employees

HR is entrusted with the responsibility of taking care of the employees. A small gesture of empathy and understanding can go a long way. Some of the steps that the HR team can take for the well-being of their employees are:

Suggested Readings

  1. Durkheim, E (2013 [1987]). Suicide: A Study in Sociology. Snowball Publishing, UK.
  2. Brene Brown (2017). “Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and The
    Courage to Stand Alone.” Random House Publishing, UK