Perhaps it’s a way of processing my own coronavirus anxiety, but I can’t help looking to the future and wondering what the world will look like when we emerge from this.
Whilst acknowledging the unprecedented times we’re living through and the very difficult situations many are experiencing, I also see that there is hope.
Every communication I’ve seen acknowledges the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on our mental as well as our physical health. Never has it been clearer that mental and physical health are equal. We all have mental health – all of the time – that ebbs and flows. Out of necessity, more and more people are now learning about the measures we can all put in place to proactively maintain our mental wellbeing.
Moving the dial
When we do come through this, it will be clearer to employers that a mentally and physically healthy workforce is fundamental to sustainable business success. This is a time for individuals to consider creating new healthier habits. It’s also a time for employers to look at how they will plan for recovery – putting in place proactive measures to holistically support the mental, physical, financial and social wellbeing of their human capital as a strategic priority.
Virtually business as usual
As learning and development teams scramble to make fresh resources available to colleagues working remotely, this is an ideal opportunity to ensure all training references mental health as a matter of course. It’s also a chance to integrate mental wellbeing into development plans and for managers to gain a better understanding of how they can support the wellbeing of remote teams. And, it’s more important than every to commit to measuring the impact of support put in place to ensure it is of the greatest benefit. Surveying and assessing tools and solutions which capture engagement data can all help achieve this.
Loneliness, leadership, community and compassion
With social isolation being imposed globally, the need to combat loneliness has become a priority; it’s no longer something that happens to other people. It’s good to see the compassion, empathy and sense of community that many are displaying as we help each other deal with the turbulence all around us. As Paul Polman, former CEO of Unilever wrote recently, the greatest business leaders will: “Play a longer game to serve the societies which host them in this moment of great need, offering people security and stability as an antidote to panic and fear”.
The vulnerability of gig economy workers is coming into clear focus: self-employed workers need our help and not just in the short term. Coronavirus has propelled this issue into the spotlight and it’s good to see innovative solution providers like Collective Benefits are ready to pick up the gauntlet. Their offering provides a safety net for sick pay and income protection, as well as access to mental and physical health cover.
Historically, periods of intense disruption have accelerated change. My hope is that this time, in as many ways possible, change will be for the better.
About the author
Claire Farrow is the Global Director of Content and Programming for the Mad World and Make a Difference Summits. She also drives the content for Mad World News. Claire is on a mission to help every employer – large, medium and small – get the insight, inspiration and contacts they need to make real impact on workplace culture, mental health and wellbeing in their organisation. She has been freelance for more than 15 years. During that time, she has had the honour of working with many leading publishers, including the New York Times.