We are living in times of considerable uncertainty with mental health and well-being issues becoming a growing concern in the workplace. McKinsey surveyed 1000 employers and found that 90% reported the COVID-19 pandemic crisis was affecting the behavioural health – and often the productivity – of their workforce. A poll by the Pew Research Center taken in February 2021 found that 21% of American adults reported high levels of psychological distress related to the pandemic and over 60% felt nervous, anxious or on edge, with trouble sleeping in the previous week some or most of the time.
Forbes has predicted the following post-pandemic trends for 2021:
– Remote working will be the norm.
– Employee mental health will be a priority.
– There will be a shift in adopting healthy lifestyle changes.
– Emphasis will be on compassionate leadership.
And yet, dramatic changes are continuing to cause havoc across many business sectors. We may wish to go “back to normal” but it is more helpful – and healthful – to think of “looking forward.” But then how can we if we are grappling with anxiety and stress, having trouble sleeping, and struggling with changes beyond our control?
Focus on practical well-being strategies
Organizations need to urgently address well-being issues in a constructive way to help staff be at their best for them to reach their goals and organizational targets. Leaders are not expected to be trained psychologists, but they can provide practical tools and strategies through online learning to help staff manage anxiety and stress, improve motivation, deal with uncertainty and fear, and stay as healthy as possible. Even optimism can be learned and developed with three key behavioural changes: learning how to “find the silver lining,” not dwell on shortcomings, and how to get out of a pessimistic rut. Taking short breaks at work can also help keep us healthy by simply stretching for three or four minutes – in or out of the office chair.
Organizations can offer well-being programs to encourage healthy habits and leaders can be trained to be more compassionate, but for more immediate and effective results a personalized approach is needed. Offering employees access to short, focused programs that meet immediate needs and giving them the opportunity to choose these programs enables individuals to:
– Break their digital addiction and/or overcome insomnia.
– Reduce stress and anxiety and build resilience.
– Learn to set boundaries and worry less.
– Manage their own anger and/or mood swings.
– Survive a personal crisis.
– Deal with inappropriate behaviour or a personality conflict.
When we equip people with positive tools and strategies they can begin to tackle their own pressures, break an unhealthy habit, learn to adopt a positive thinking mindset, adapt to change, and begin to accept what they cannot control. These invaluable skills can help people overcome challenges, increase productivity, and create a more peaceful, comfortable, and healthier way to work.
It is accepted practice to have troubleshooting strategies and technical support in place to ensure equipment and IT functions smoothly. Now it’s time to put the well-being of people first. Placing a focus on learning can deliver improved culture and quality of work, and increased job satisfaction. Through learning we can enable one another to build skills and resilience for these challenging times.
Eve Ash is a filmmaker and psychologist who has produced TV series, documentaries and over 300 eLearning courses, with an emphasis on well-being and mental health, management, communication, and business skills. As an Australian, she knows the importance of appealing to a global audience and creates a powerful blend of psychology, drama, expertise, animation, comedy, and instructional design across her programs.