Ibec Academy | News and Emerging Trends
In any crisis, it is commonplace for individuals to feel a level of stress and concern. During this time, it is important that we take every opportunity to protect and enhance the mental health and wellbeing of ourselves and our employees not just due to the short-term benefits but also to ensure the longer-term impact on capacity to fulfil roles and also to build resilience as we adapt to the challenges in due course. There are a number of steps we can take.
What can an organisation do to help?
- Keep communication clear, regular and accurate with as much information as is possible to answer questions but without fuelling further speculation – this is not a case of “sugar coating” messages but rather saying what is known and unknown, with a commitment to answer the unknown as soon as it is possible.
- Provide sources of quality information through links to trusted websites, sources of advice regarding personal and financial health.
- Promote opportunities for employees to stay connected even while apart or while practising social distancing. As humans we rely on connections with other people to feel happy and healthy in life. We build our social wellbeing and feel valued through our interactions with people, our connections at work, in the community and in our personal lives. At work, connection is not only essential for team coherence around tasks but creates a sense of belonging and investment in the organisation. Encouraging employees to have informal conversations and providing them with both the time and tools to do so is essential for their sense of belonging in the organisation. This can build into team activities to bond people around the “couch to 5k” or “step challenges” and can bring both camaraderie and engagement around a common goal that has nothing to do with work, as well as emphasising the need to disconnect and build balance into the way we are working differently.
- Remind employees of the Employee Assistance Programme details where your organisation has one in place. They can be a key resource for employees on issues like mental health, financial health, fitness and work issues.
There can be significant challenges to our mental health and wellbeing when faced with a crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic that challenges not only our physical safety and that of those around us, but also changes how we work and live. The uncertainty and unknown aspect of the situation as it progresses does little to reduce the feelings of anxiety and lack of control in individuals. To address these concerns requires us to begin taking back control of the elements that we can have an impact on and bringing back routines and structures into our days that balance our personal and work lives where possible.
This continues to be an evolving situation and one that will test our resilience but by using the tools available to us, recognising what coping measures we use and trying to ensure they are positive ones, we can reassure ourselves of our ability to get through this difficult time.
Kara McGann, Head of Social Policy, Ibec