The COVID-19 pandemic changed the way we work fundamentally. Suddenly we had to take an invisible enemy into account and respect several precautions to minimize the threat that the virus poses. Governments enforced lockdowns, and people needed to stay at home. Companies were forced to restructure the way they were working because working from home became the standard.
COVID-19 confronted HR departments with some new challenges. And some ‘old’ problems became more apparent. One example of an old issue that became more apparent during the last year is stress management. In the pre-COVID-19 era, HR teams often relied on their gut feeling and personal contact with their people. Today this has been shown to be very challenging.
Like the coronavirus, stress is an invisible enemy for HR departments, but its impact on mental and physical well-being is substantial. The WHO estimates that stress and anxiety in the workplace cost the global economy 1$ trillion each year. Stress can also have severe effects on the body. For example, research shows that prolonged exposure to stress is linked to autoimmune diseases. But how can companies outline strategies to push back the adverse effects that stress has on employees and their business in general? And how can stressors be investigated and managed?
It is interesting to observe how governments try to push back their invisible enemy (i.e., the coronavirus). The cornerstone of the strategy is often to conduct as many tests as possible. If there is a particular region in the country or city where the virus is active, specific actions are deployed to contain the virus. The takeaway here is that having a clear picture of the problem is essential before starting to think about possible solutions. In particular, if you are dealing with an invisible enemy.
Like governments, HR teams should have a clear and up-to-date picture of what is going on within their company. Strategies designed to reduce stress and increase employee resilience need to be data-driven. Understand which stressors affect employees’ mental and physical well-being is essential. If the problems are evident, it makes sense to invest in solutions.
So, what do the coronavirus and stress have in common? Both are invisible.
If you want to know more about the solutions that we have to measure and manage stress within your company, do not hesitate to get in touch!