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COPING WITH THE STRESS OF COVID-19 IN THE WORKPLACE

The middle of May 2020 saw most countries cautiously reopen their borders and businesses. Gradually, businesses seem to be getting back to normal, organizations now have fewer workers present at the same time while also engaging in remote working and scheduling online meetings.

Some of the downsides of employees staying at home for so long and coming to terms with the loss of control over free movement resulted in uncertainty which spawned individuals to experience intense worry and anxiety.

For some, the social detachment imposed by the lockdown is posing a huge challenge; and all of these effects should be taken into consideration by employers and employees, to get better performance and satisfaction from the team which will produce the maximum result and pushes the organization’s goal forward.

How then can you cope and avoid some of these effects in your workplace? What is expected of every team member?

EMPLOYER:

You must recognize the stress and fears of your employees; do not impose the same expectations that you did before the lockdown

Show Respect: Be courteous to every individual’s beliefs and show empathy towards their state of affairs outside the workplace, while balancing the need to get the job done. It will go a long way when employers approach every situation with respect and open communication as it helps discover solutions that balance the needs of individual employees with the needs of the organization.

Transparency: Congruous and clear communication about how, why and when decisions are made can help reduce stress and anxiety. Being transparent about the decision-making process helps employees understand the timelines of what to expect and why certain decisions were made. Also, create an opportunity for feedback from employees on the process.

Constant Education: Providing employees with well-grounded knowledge about COVID-19 and mental health will help alleviate fears and anxieties. Oftentimes, people find it difficult to recognize signs of mental health distress in themselves. Educate employees about common symptoms to help them identify warning signs in themselves and others.

Finally, supervisors must be well equipped to help employees, as they may be the first to observe if someone is feeling anxious, stressed, or fearful by recognizing behaviours. Company policies and procedures should also express the value that the organization sets on its workforce. It would be best to reassess organizational policies and procedures that support employees who experience stress while ensuring mental health benefits are sufficient.

 

EMPLOYEE

As an employee, how you cope with these emotions and stress can affect you, the people you care about, your workplace, and your community. Hence, you must recognize the stressors and their symptoms, take steps to build your resilience and handle job stress.

Identify Stressors and their symptoms:

  • Perturbed you might be exposed to the virus at work.
  • Managing different or multiple assignments at work.
  • Not being able to access the necessary tools to carry out your duties.
  • The guilt of not giving enough and that you’re not present at work.
  • The unreliability that surrounds the future of your employment or organization.
  • Coping with new communication devices and having to deal with technical difficulties.
  • Readjusting to a different workspace or work schedule.

These stress triggers can lead to:-

  • Feeling irritated and nervous
  • Lacking motivation
  • Feeling tired and burned out
  • Being sad or depressed
  • Insomnia
  • Lack of concentration

Building Resilience and handling Job Stress

  • Open communication with other employee and employers on what causes stress and work together to identify the solutions. Also, express how the pandemic is affecting your work and clear-cut expectations be given.
  • Know the things which you do not have control over and do the best you can with the resources available to you.
  • Creating a daily routine will increase your sense of control; it’s best to choose one that is similar to your programme before the pandemic.

In all, when formulating a stress-management action plan for you and your team especially at this critical time, ensure that everyone is on the same page about team objectives, timelines, and expectations, show empathy towards their lives in and outside the office, educate them constantly on how to stay safe and be on the lookout for their mental health.

Identifying stress triggers and knowing their symptoms will help you as an employee to withstand its effect and in the end, you’ll be able to handle the stress that comes with the new normal.

 

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