COVID-19: Mental wellbeing in the new normal

'We are navigating unprecedented times and unchartered territory with this virus'

COVID-19: Mental wellbeing in the new normal

The current COVID-19 crisis has changed the way we live, work, and interact with one another. As employers shift into a more remote mindset, and technology continues to allow our people to engage at home, it’s time to look to the future.

Or, more specifically, what this new normality will mean for employee mental wellbeing.


HRD spoke to Lori Casselman, president and chief revenue officer at Wello, who detailed more closely the intricacies surrounding wellbeing, COVID-19 and mental health.

“As we all know, the coronavirus is presenting new and unique challenges,” prefaced Casselman.

“We are navigating unprecedented times and unchartered territory with this virus. As such, it’s essential to find new ways of navigating this ‘new normal’ – not just at work, but also in our personal lives.

“So, while we take care of ourselves and our families, we also need to think about how we're taking care of one another in our organizations – helping each other adjust to this new, remote working environment.”

Remote working may be a new experience for many employees – meaning that feelings of isolation, loneliness, and even anxiety could arise suddenly. As our lives continue to meld into this ‘new norm’, it’s unsurprising that lots of people are having a hard time adapting. It’s up to employers, and HR in particular, to help guide workers through these unchartered waters.

“Our daily living routines have become disrupted, which for many is causing feelings of stress and strain,” continued Casselman. “People are imposing more pressure on themselves to perform to their usual standards and meet management expectations.”

This perfect storm of uncertainty and anxiety is disrupting our work and our personal lives. As such, it’s imperative now that employers invest more time and effort in safeguarding and supporting employee mental health.

“I think the number one most important thing for us to be doing as leaders during this time is communicate,” added Casselman.

“If there’s one strategy that supersedes all others, it's putting a focus on communicating - communicating frequently and with intent amongst our teams and with one another.

“The first step I would recommend all leaders do is complete an inventory of all existing resources that are available within your work environment to support employee health.

“Look for any additional programs or resources that you may uniquely have available within your work environment. For example, many organizations have put together peer support programs to help their people. You should also look at any providers your organization is partnered with – what resources do they have that you could share with your management teams?”

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, there’ve been a number of announcements from lawmakers concerning government programs.

Casselman suggests taking the time to see if any of these initiatives could be of use to you and your organization. From a children’s helpline to wellbeing schemes, there’s something for everyone.

“It’s important that HR pulls together a plan to communicate the availability of these resources,” continued Casselman.

“It’s all about ensuring that employees understand that there’s great supports available to them – and ensuring that they're utilizing those supports on a proactive manner, both to manage their own mental health and that of their family.

“Create time and space within the frequency of the daily work environment to talk about health, both psychical and mental - so that there is no scenario in which employees were unaware of the many resources available to them.”

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