COVID-19 has affected many people’s mental, physical, and emotional health since the pandemic began. Many employees have been forced to work remotely and conduct their work over interactive platforms such as Zoom, Skype, and Google Hangouts. According to an article by HR Executive, 69% of workers say the pandemic has been the most stressful time of their careers as professionals. These are the same people who lived through the Great Depression and 9/11.
This stress can stem from many sources whether that be the fear of losing your job and being unable to provide for your family, being isolated from people while working remotely, or not being able to enjoy fun work-related activities such as happy hours. The lack of work-life balance has caused employees’ mental health to decline. According to a study conducted by Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), 36% of people have difficulty sleeping, 32% have difficulty eating, 12% increased their use of alcohol consumption, and 12% have worsening chronic conditions. The stress and uncertainty that COVID has caused and led many people’s physical and mental health to decline.
While many people’s stress levels have increased from COVID, some enjoy the remote work environment. Working remotely has its benefits such as having a more flexible work schedule, working from any location, more time around your family and pets, and no driving or taking the train. However, while there are some benefits of a remote work environment, it does have many consequences. Some of these include loneliness, distractions present at home, harder to collaborate, different time zones than the team, and unplugging from work. When employees don’t change location after working, it is hard to strike a balance between personal and professional time. Many people enjoy the idea of getting home after a long day of work and being able to watch TV at your home or spend time with your kids. The pandemic has disrupted this routine.
Although COVID has engendered a lack of work-life balance for many, there are ways in which companies can help improve the well being of their employees during this time. First, managers and bosses must practice compassion with their employees. They must realize that all employees are not on their “A-game” during this pandemic, so there may need to be a decrease in the workload and pressure that employees take on. Next, adding mental health services to employees benefits plans can be very helpful for improving well being. Giving employees cheap access to services such as therapy can be a great way to improve mental health during these tough times. Finally, a company should allow their employees to stay active and get fresh air. Being in a remote environment that is isolated from everyone can be lonely and upsetting. Companies should allow their employees extra time to take walks or bonds with family and friends. Employees with a healthy physical and mental state of mind work harder. To that end, it’s very important that employers implement the following best practices to improve the well being of their employees:
Showcase genuine compassion for and interest in employees and how they are doing each day
Enable mind & body remote activities for reduced stress levels and to keep them healthy
Foster an open environment for employees to feel comfortable to discuss personal issues and vulnerabilities