Ben Bierman is a managing director at Business Partners Limited.
Ben Bierman is a managing director at Business Partners Limited.

Business101: How to help employees cope with stress of Covid-19

By Ben Bierman Time of article published May 17, 2020

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JOHANNESBURG - The continued  global spread of the coronavirus has left a heightened sense of anxiety and uncertainty. 

The South African Depression and Anxiety Group said calls have spiked since the start of lockdown from people feeling anxious, lonely, worried and depressed. 

While businesses adapt to the new normal, caring for employee mental health and supporting workplace well-being should be top priorities. Here are ways to help employees cope with Covid-19. Communication Regular, clear, and open communication is vital to managing the high levels of uncertainty that are likely being felt by employees. 

Consider the sensitive nature of the pandemic as well as health and economic factors that are at play. Rules Taking too much of a “business as usual” approach could be counter-productive to employee well-being. If there ever was a time to be flexible with schedules, nonessential tasks, and sick leave – it is now, especially for employees who are parents or looking after elderly family members. 

They may struggle more to juggle their work and family responsibilities. Burn-out The risk of burn-out – the state of physical, emotional, or mental exhaustion – is at an all-time high. 

Businesses should therefore be encouraging managers to look out for warning signs of employee burn-out within their teams. These signs include irritability, cynicism and the inability to focus on important tasks at hand. Support Businesses should help employees that appear to be struggling by encouraging them to take breaks during the workday, or even time off to disconnect where necessary. 

However, when it comes to managing employee mental health during a pandemic, there are limits to the support that employers themselves can offer. It is therefore important to be well acquainted with the free resources available in the country, such as online counselling and helplines, and signpost them clearly for employees. Personal You cannot support the wellbeing of your employees if you are not looking after that of your own. During stressful situations, self-care is often the first thing that people let go of. So while prioritising the well-being of your staff, ensure that you are coping too. After all, this is a challenging time for everyone. 

Ben Bierman is a managing director at Business Partners Limited. 

BUSINESS REPORT

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