The year 2020 has been extremely challenging for business leaders. Not only do they have to re-organize the organizational framework, but they had to formulate strategies that work best with this new change. As the COVID-19 pandemic is speculated to rein the world even over the next couple of months, working remotely is the only safe and secured option for the organizations.
Working remotely has many pros and cons. While the productivity from remote working has significantly increased, a spike in the employee distress is also being observed. With the number of unemployment claims piling up the chart, the number of COVID patients and causalities spiking daily and the sweltering geopolitical changes adding distress, it is pretty natural for the employees to feel uncertain about their future. And this uncertainty often leads to mental health distress and easier burnout. Several reports point out an increase in mental and emotional distress due to COVID-19.
A survey report by the mental health provider Ginger states that 65% of the surveyed employees have listed the COVID-19 pandemic to be the most stressful situation they have encountered during their professional career. This number has surpassed the stress level amongst employees during the 2008 great recession and other natural and unnatural disasters. Over 88% of the workers have reported experiencing extreme to moderate stress due to COVID 19. This has caused a stark increase in the prescriptions of anti-depressant, anti-anxiety and anti-somnia medications. Additionally, 62% surveyed employees have reported losing at least an hour of productivity every day due to COVID-19 related stress, with 32% of workers losing more than two hours per day. Another report by the Kaiser Family Foundation indicates that women are 16% more likely to have COVID-19 related mental distress, as compared to men.
Undoubtedly no organization wants a decrease in productivity and discrepancies in the operational workflow. Due to this reason, many employees end-up either getting terminated or suspended. But this should not be the solution to achieve agility in business operations and functions. Business leaders must adopt strategies that can scale up employees productivity, performance and efficiency. Supporting the employees during the crisis builds loyalty for the business leaders.
Regular Conversation with the Employees
While many employees are inclined towards working with this new normal, others find it difficult to concentrate on their work. The reasons for this can be countless. Distress in personal relationships and ailing parents can cause uneasiness at work and productivity. Henceforth, the management and the HR executive must constantly engage conversations with the employees whom they find lacking. By building an empathic relationship with the employees, the business leaders will be able to encourage productivity and efficiency.
While many employees may feel distressed due to the current uncertain situation, for others this distress gets escalated to mental health challenges such as anxiety and depression. This leads to easier burnout, lack of productivity and lack of interest in doing the regularly assigned tasks. Eventually, their participation within the team and the respective department gets declined. A report points out that burn-out amongst employees is one of the leading causes of frequent severed professional relationships.
Henceforth, the team leaders must assess the change in behavior of employees. Once they find a change in the pattern of employee behavior, they can recommend them to the company’s counselor for help. Additionally, irrespective of the crisis, companies must have a counselor, whom employees can visit whenever necessary. Often not many employees get comfortable in sharing their distress with the higher authorities. This approach will send the message to the employees that the business leaders are standing in solidarity with them. This way more trust will imbibe amongst the employees towards the business executives.
Recommending Social Services for Strong Professional Relationship
Due to the ongoing pandemic or crisis otherwise, employees might often be faced by the question of existential crisis. It is a very common phenomenon and usually impacts the age group of 25-40 years. With the COVID-19 crisis, the situation might get worse. In order to tackle this situation, business leaders can encourage the employees to volunteer for social service and give back to the community. For example, business leaders can initiate small clubs for community services within the organization, where participation by employees is made compulsory. These clubs will then function in providing relief work to the under-privileged people of the community. Through this, the employees can inculcate a positive attitude towards work.
Encouraging participation of employees during regular meetings helps in boosting confidence. Asking about their recommendations, acknowledging their ideas and addressing their problems, helps business leaders in building a strong business community. But a major step is in identifying the barrier in productivity. Once that is done, strategic measures must be taken for enhanced employee engagement. After all, every successful community works with contribution and sharing!