Source: Rene Schoeman, bbrief, photo credit: Creaky Joints
The effect of the Covid-19 Pandemic on employee mental health has been overwhelming. Organisations are realising the deep need to turn their attention and focus on employee wellness, especially during this time of increased separation and decreased human interaction.
Psychologically, human beings are wired for connection. This means that even those individuals who would be considered introverts still require a level of human engagement for optimal mental health. The lockdown and further restrictions that resulted from the Covid-19 pandemic made this level of human interaction impossible.
Initially some organisations discovered that during lockdown their productivity went up while office overheads went down. This finding has opened more possibilities for a new future in the world of business; one that has a lot more freedom from the office as a set building and is driven by a remote workforce. However, this initial upswing soon took a severe dive in instances where the isolation had a negative impact on the mental wellbeing of employees.
“The question now is, what is best for the employee and how do we find a way forward? Companies have realised that they can cut bottom lines and save costs, but how do we balance that cost saving with human health or employee wellness? Are we going to save on the one end and then spend more to keep employees mentally sound?” postulates Rene Schoeman, Human Capital Specialist Consultant at LabourGenie.Net.
For many businesses, strict regulations and economic hits taken in the last year mean they do not have the resources to go back to their pre-covid setups. Understanding how to manage employee wellness and find space for connection is going to require some original thought and innovation. To drive this innovation, efficient technological solutions must be employed to better manage and maintain organisations, and employee relations.
“We must use technology far more effectively. It is important to utilise cutting edge software and technology to ensure that scheduling and budgeting are done correctly, and that all the mundane tasks are streamlined and automated. When technology helps organisations take care of the employee lifecycle, the software empowers users to overcome manual, mundane tasks that may have taken up so much of their time. This frees them up to ensure that, even in this tech driven world, there is time for that human connection and human touch,” explains Schoeman.
Technology can also aid in the scheduling and organising of corporate in-person socialisation and wellbeing activities that follow strict Covid-19 protocols. This allows businesses to develop spaces where connection is possible, in a way that is conscientious of required safety while facilitating more human interaction and wellbeing.
It is also imperative that managers are trained in the required managerial style to suit their specific organisational set-up and demographic. “Whether managers are new entrants to the market, or from an older generation, it is essential that they are trained, prepared, and empowered to manage an agile and remote workforce,” adds Schoeman. “Today, a remote workforce needs to function with strong communication and a clear sense of trust. Managers must be equipped to manage a remote workforce with an output-based approach, rather than being purely task oriented.”
Today, organisations must find a new balance between remote work and programmes that ensure sufficient human interaction. “With more interaction, employees are generally happier and more productive,” concludes Schoeman. “When employees feel content, safe, and that their needs have been met they deliver the best work.”