When we saw in the New Year with fireworks and celebration, no one expected that 2020 would bring us a global pandemic and throw our entire lives into limbo, and yet here we are almost 12 weeks in.
Covid-19 or coronavirus has seen the world grind to a halt, and many countries, including the UK, in lockdown, but how are people coping on reflection?
In the world of UK employment right now, there are huge variants in the types of situations people find themselves in. From employees on the furlough scheme, people working from home, key workers, those who have now been ‘actively encouraged’ to go back to work if they cannot work from home, and those who have unfortunately lost their jobs. All in all, no one has it easy right now.
Although the Furlough Scheme has been helpful in keeping businesses and households afloat, it brings with it its own problems. For example, now surviving on only 80% of one’s previous salary brings huge added financial pressure. According to a survey by King’s College London, 22% of all those surveyed say they are either already facing significant financial difficulties – including not being able to pay for essential items or their housing – or it is certain/very likely that they will be at some point. And 12% of the self- employed say they’re already facing significant financial difficulties, with a further 12% saying they are certain they will.
Those able to work from home do not have it easy either – with the added worry and concern of keeping up with their workload in an unfamiliar work setting, potentially without the proper equipment. Then of course there are those perhaps living alone entirely that are facing increased loneliness and the knock-on effect that has on their mental health. Those with children are having to care for them full-time (and for many this also includes home educating), as well as work full-time, juggling an almost impossible balance.
And of course, our key workers, who have been putting their health on the line every day so that our basic needs are met. There is an incredible amount of pressure on them to keep going regardless, coupled with keeping their own families afloat and coping with the unavoidable anxiety through PPE shortages and exposure to the virus.
Overall, our collective mental health has taken a battering over these past few months, and it is important to check in with oneself and others, to keep tabs on how we are all feeling. Half of people surveyed said they have felt more anxious or depressed than normal as a result of coronavirus. 38% have slept less or less well than normal, 35% have eaten more food or less healthy food than normal, 19% have drunk more alcohol than normal, 19% have argued more with their family or housemates than normal. So much of our lives has been impacted, and it’s important for businesses to understand the added pressures on their workforce during this time.
There is also significant fear of the negative economic impacts of coronavirus, with nearly one in six (16%) workers saying they have either already lost their job or are certain/very likely to lose it. There is widespread pessimism about the UK’s economic future: 42% think it will be over a year before the economy starts to grow again. Shocking statistics, but a stark reality for us all.
Changes to the current lockdown restrictions are ongoing and likely to fluctuate, in addition stricter measures could possibly be imposed with little notice. Communicating with your employees is crucial, keeping people informed of what your business is doing will help them to make their own decisions and give a degree of security during these uncertain times.
Knowing they are valued and supported by their employer – and that you continue to prioritise their health and safety – is pivotal to an employee’s well-being and trust in the organisation.
If you’d like to understand how your employees are coping, we’re offering companies a free Team Cohesion survey. This survey provides insight on the emotional and psychological factors affecting your teams.
Based on 20 years of experience in elite sport, we have been researching and understanding these emotional and psychological inputs, and how to measure them. This has led us to know the three most impactful areas are:
Team Relationships: the quality and depth of relationships behind the effort we invest and whether we continue to invest this effort.
Team Alignment: being aligned in our focus, and a sense of shared purpose is critical to any team achievement.
Team Behaviours: having a set of values and behaviours are your way of operating. These effect how you communicate, what is important to you, and how you go about your job. They are stronger than a set of rules, done well they are a set of commitments that an individual makes to the team.
For more information or to register click here.
In addition, if you or anyone you know are finding things hard emotionally right now, you’re not alone. Mind, a mental health charity, offer information and advice to people whose well-being has been affected by coronavirus.
For organisations, there is guidance published on the gov.uk website on specific steps, principles and measures to be taken in workplaces and elsewhere that employers will need to consider in planning for the future. Organisations therefore need to use this time to prepare and plan their next steps.
Have you considered what issues might be affecting your employees?