The COVID Generation: Wellbeing lessons from a global pandemic
Published in The Daily Telegraph 9th March 2022
Marcela Slepica, AccessEAP Director, Clinical Services
It shouldn't have taken a global pandemic to take mental health and wellbeing seriously, particularly in the workplace. But after two years of COVID, it’s important we take a moment to reflect on the lessons learnt and where we go from here.
Mental health and wellbeing support is essential
Isolation and a feeling of repetitive cyclical life took their toll during the pandemic and many experienced mental health challenges. One silver lining to come from this prevalence has been public acknowledgement and discussion of mental health. Global media coverage was spear-headed by sports stars and celebrities sharing their own struggles. Reporting on the impacts of lockdown on mental health, experts and celebrities alike shared their advice to help us through this tumultuous time. We cannot understate the impact women like Simone Biles and Naomi Osaka had when they publicly discussed their mental health struggles. The actions of these few solidified a mental burden felt by many - not just elite sportspeople - that was all too often ignored.
With mental health and wellbeing so firmly in the spotlight, many workplaces have recognised their role in supporting their people. A cultural focus on supporting employees is building momentum and organisations have an important role to play in breaking down the stigma surrounding mental health and encouraging open conversations.
Social connection doesn’t come freely
Re-establishing positive cultures and camaraderie should be a major goal for organisations as we enter a hybrid-working model and enjoy more facetime with colleagues. Building tight-knit teams whilst working from home has been a challenge - people who changed jobs over the last two years often worked for several months without ever meeting a work colleague in person. Without casual interactions at work, it can be difficult for new starters to internalise their organisation’s culture. Formal presentations and meetings can set expectations, but the true culture of an organisation is established not by talk, but by walking the walk in day-to-day operations.
Committing to new priorities
For most of us, the pandemic prompted a reconsideration of our life priorities. Freedom and agency are key desires post-pandemic, and both physical and mental health have risen in priority across the country. Time saved by eliminating the daily commute has been put towards time with family and pursuing new hobbies. Increasingly flexible working hours are a godsend for parents, who are able to plan their work around school pick up and drop off, and small domestic tasks like laundry slid seamlessly into daily schedules.
As office workplaces become more feasible and popular again, let’s balance these new priorities. Wellbeing is about far more than flexible working, but it’s an obvious and important consideration for organisations.
Two years in the mirror
The last two years have undoubtedly been one of the most tumultuous periods of the past half-century. As with all seismic events, the world will never be exactly as it was before, but this is an opportunity to reflect and rejuvenate. Whether you’re self-employed, a small business owner, a CEO or an employee - take the opportunity to consider what lessons you’ll be taking into this new world order.
Reach out to us here at AccessEAP on 1800 818 728. As always, our people are here to help support you and your people be their best in life and work.