Ambika is a RCI licensed Clinical Psychologist who is confident to bring about a change around myself, with the extensive knowledge. She strives to spread positive thinking. She is a fun-loving person who likes to travel, try different cuisines, meet new people, and make chocolates.
Workplaces are an establishment which have clearly defined vision and mission for their gaols. The focus of any profit-making organisation is highest productivity of their employees and revenue generation at the maximum. Now, any obstruction or deviation from the game plan is a loss to them, be it any, private or public. Pandemic has been proven to be one such major economic crisis for the world. It impacted workplaces from all the sectors possible. But because the companies had to work and survive in the market, the work culture went digital and started new normal concept of work from home. Shifting to work from home culture, was a big challenge to the employees as well as the organisations.
When it comes to employees, it involved them adjusting to the – digital meetings, technical know-how about meeting platforms, special checks on log-in timings, extended working hours, extra reporting, changes in policies, facing technical issues with devices, ensuring good Wi-Fi connectivity, etc. All these issues were just not enough in themselves, because of the indispensable household concerns faced, from setting up a small office space at home to fulfilling household demands. The changes required an extra level of adjustment from each individual. And may be a few months were spent into fixing up a schedule balancing both work and household responsibilities.
The whole set up of work from home disturbed the pre pandemic corporate culture and posed as a big challenge to organisations as well. The organisations were seen to be struggling with availability of employees, timelines, productivity, managing financial resources, economic crisis, employees’ expectations, emotional needs, etc.
The shift from face to face to going digital wasn’t easy for any party, but sooner or later they adjusted for good. But now when the post pandemic times are arriving, it is expected that the functioning of corporate world also gets back into place. Either a complete face to face with full capacity is demanded, or a hybrid system (mix of WFH and physical) is being adapted. In any situation, when the employees who will be required to shift back to a physical set up, another adjustment will be required by them. It can also be said that a kind of unlearning of the pandemic times is expected. Unlearning is even difficult phenomenon than learning a new behaviour.
So the organisations need to be ready with some expectations of concerns they will be facing while asking the employees to join office physically on a regular basis. There will be major issues to be revolving around culture difference i.e. shifting back to office from comfortable home environment. Some of the issues that can be seen are:
- Time flexibility
- Team bonding
- Adjusting with Policy changes
- Following sanitation norms
- Balancing of mental health problems with work
- Adjusting back with corporate culture
- Emotional needs
It must not be forgotten that both the times lockdown was announced in multiple states of India, we witnessed deadly wave of COVID-19. Those were seen to be difficult times for many as they lost their loved ones to the illness, and many also developed mental health issues, with high probability of predisposition to the illness. The difficulties are not transient and must not be expected by the individual to overcome them in due course of time. This involves high amount of coping from the individual and also engages emotions. This becomes a sensitive place for the organisation where they can play a major role in either aggravating the problem or reducing it. Such vulnerable individuals are exhausting their coping bank at a higher speed and get easily affected by emotional stimulus present in the environment.
It is very essential for the organisations, as a whole, to keep some of the factors in mind while asking their employees to join back physically. The workplace must be fully capacitated to handle any kind of emotional concern of their employees at this time, so as to demand optimum level of productivity from their end. Accomplishing an organisational goal is a two-way road, where demand and supply of employer and employee meets.
Preparedness required by the organisations
The employers as well as employees of any workplaces must be present with full sensitivity towards the feelings of each other as it can be expected at any difficult time of an employee.
It is no more an alien idea to be aware about red flag signs of psychological issues, to be better equipped to handle challenges faced by your peers at workplaces.
Take an extra step from sympathy to empathy; feel the pain of the other person and then express what you feel, instead of simply expressing what the other person is going through. This will develop trust and strengthen the bond with your colleague.
Availability of psychologist
Try and provide your employees with an easy access to a psychologist, either at workplace or through collaborations with mental health set ups.
Identify people who are good at soft skills amongst your employee lot, and train them to run small support groups to help those going common concerns, like losing a loved one.
Special policies, like allowing WFH, giving an extra leave, can be established for those who are psychologically or emotionally affected by the lockdown and pandemic. It may one employee today and second tomorrow. The policies would have an advantage to all.
Small but regular mental health campaigns can be run by workplaces to keep a check on the mental health of their employees.
Many set ups don’t approve of mental health issues and focus only on their gains. It should reminded to such workplaces that they deal with human resources to achieve the company goals. And humans are full of emotions unlike machines. Just like their outstanding skill set, their emotional needs also come along with the package. It is only reasonable for any organisation to have a little capacity to expect and entertain these emotional needs of employees. Otherwise, it would be very common for them to witness persistent problems like increased stress, spontaneous resignations, absenteeism, low performance, barring timelines, etc. This shows that there will be some kind of loss or setback to be experienced by the organisations when moved unidirectional.
An organisation can assess itself on the pointers stated above to evaluate if they are ready to deal with mental health issues of individuals post pandemic. If not, then we come back square one asking ourselves – Are we ready to deal with the mental health issues of our employees? If not, then what?