As we approach our sixth week in lockdown, we wanted to take the opportunity to better understand the impact of Covid-19 on our industry and the minds of our people.
The pandemic is clearly having a major social and psychological impact on the whole population. We’re seeing Increasing unemployment, families separated and various other changes in the way that we live and work. All of these changes are major psychological risk factors for anxiety, depression and self-harm, with even the most enlightened of fellows hard-pressed to have the full armoury of tools to deal with these current circumstances.
Social distancing is impacting how we connect, pushing us instead to come together via zoom, facetime and other digital platforms. But the internet is becoming noisy, and the pressure to show up and connect can cause further stress and anxiety for some people.
”Half of people surveyed said that they felt more anxious or depressed than usual as a result of the virus.”
King’s College and Ipsos Mori surveyed 2,250 people in the UK between 18-75 to see how life in lockdown is affecting individuals. Half of people surveyed said that they felt more anxious or depressed than usual as a result of the virus. They also found that 15% of people are already finding it extremely difficult to cope, and another 14% expect that it will be even more difficult over the next four weeks.
Kelly Beaver, Managing Director of Public Affairs at Ipsos Mori commented on the survey, saying “It’s becoming clear that people are beginning to suffer due to the restrictions stemming from the Covid-19 outbreak … Very worryingly, a fifth of people already have financial difficulties or think they are very likely to during the crisis, combined with the fact that half of people believe that it’s likely to be a year or more until life returns to normal.” However, we can see a silver lining running throughout the survey, with 60% of people saying that they have volunteered to help people in need during this time.
So, the question is, what can be done to manage this? Or, can we just assume that as soon as we head ‘back to school’ after all of this is over, that everything will just return to normal and we’ll all be okay?
It became clear from our conversations with clients that they have different strategies when it came to planning for the future. For many, survival is paramount and the impact on individuals is a byproduct – to be left to resolve itself or reviewed at another time.
Others are putting their people and their performance front and centre; creating programmes of support either from the masses of free content available online or curating tailored activity to help manage their needs, circumstances and concerns. In particular, shaping different content for those who were still working versus those who were furloughed.
”Whose responsibility is it to support employees?”
So, this does raise the question, whose responsibility is it to support employees – the companies or individuals themselves? However, the more pertinent question is do we want to have a bright future or one that is impacted by Covid-19 for months, if not years, to come?
How we feel radically impacts our performance and, our on-going conversations with clients and their teams, have already shown that the current context is leaving our people with huge knocks to their confidence. Along with fears that they are not good enough and, worryingly, that they won’t be able to do their jobs properly in the future.
So, how can we support individuals to have a better armoury to deal with the circumstances being presented to them – supporting not only them but the world of business alike? Most crucially, with teams being systematically restructured and organisations radically reshaped, we need to ensure that the people left in our businesses have both the tools and capacity to not only sustain but grow our organisations.
We believe that self-awareness and self-development are at the heart of the solution. Understanding what is happening in our minds and then having the tools to manage them better.
Putting a focus on positive wellbeing within your organisation to upskill managers and employees alike is more crucial than ever. Providing programmes of activity which can help your team communicate and collaborate better; become more creative and productive or for your managers to lead more effectively, will make a radical difference to your business in the coming months.
We have to help our people sit more comfortably in discomfort. They will either have to make or be at the receiving end of tough decisions over the coming months. The way of managing this well is to know that, whilst you might not know what is coming, you will have the tools to deal with it, and survive it, either way.
However, there is also a huge responsibility on our employees – in particular those who aren’t working and have been furloughed.
Whilst there is a huge temptation to reach for the remote control and spend the next three weeks, numbing, in a Netflix or Sauvignon-tinged vortex. Or, even worse, constantly comparing yourself to everyone else on Instagram and believing that you need to come out of this speaking fluent French or with a six-pack; please don’t. This will have a huge knock on effect on all of our mental health and will become cripplingly hard to return back from.
”Let’s make sure that we all step up as humans – for ourselves and each other.”
Now is the time to develop our people’s resilience so that they can deal with whatever is thrown at them. Now is the time that we have to get really good at asking people how they are feeling and also being prepared to expect or provide an honest answer. Now is the time to dig deep and find our motivation and much maligned discipline and commit to deep personal development and self-care. This is all so that we can all not only get through this but come out of it stronger – understanding and managing ourselves that bit better.
What is happening to us all now is likely, and thankfully, one of the hardest challenges any of us will ever have to face in our lifetimes. Covid-19 has been a wake up call for us all to stop sleepwalking through life and to hit the reset button to ensure that we can propel our way out of this as expediently as possible. So, let’s make sure that we all step up as humans – for ourselves and each other. We need to be certain that we each have the energy, skills and ability to do what’s needed and ensure that we, as individuals, as well as our businesses, come out of this stronger and more powerful than ever before.
Our survival, and that of our industry, is counting on it.
- The Samaritans: Support & Info during Coronavirus
- Public Health England: Guidance for the Public on Mental Health and Wellbeing
Up to date Info on Corona