Human beings have never had more in common with dinosaurs. The way we’re feeling now must have been how they felt watching as a giant asteroid sped towards them. Because that’s exactly what COVID-19 has been: A massive object smashing its way into our lives. It would have been considerate of the COVID asteroid to send us all a warning message. “On my way! LOL!” But we had no time to put measures in place that would protect our minds from the emotional crater we’re dealing with now.
There results of new research from The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) on how COVID-19 is impacting employee mental health is cause for concern:
- 40% of employees are reporting symptoms of feeling hopeless, burned out or exhausted
- 2 in 3 are experiencing depressive symptoms at least some of the time
We need to reduce these statistics by approaching emotional wellness as central to our way of life – and business – going forward.
Despite 2020’s best attempts at derailing things, we’re returning to a life that’s more normal, which means that many of us are returning to work. Whether that means going back to the office or remaining remote, it is essential that we recognise that “more” normal is still not normal and that we will need to help each other find our way out of the impact zone.
We’re not always good at remembering to check in with employees and colleagues, so this might mean being more deliberate about how we care. There are numerous ways to achieve this. Managers could schedule 5 minutes every meeting for check in chats. Co-workers can plan “check-in” coffees. How you go about this will depend on your business, your position and your professional preferences. Seeking the advice of coaches and mentors can assist in this regard, but the key is to make as many avenues for communication available as possible.
Before COVID, emotional wellness was – for many – an add on; an optional extra. Now, it is an imperative that will only succeed if we give people every opportunity to express what they’re experiencing. However you go about implementing this, there is only one thing that is essential: To listen. Because the dinosaurs didn’t all go extinct. They just evolved. We need to do the same.