While you might have heard the recent buzz term “Pandemic Wall,” many do not actually know what it is. When someone “hits” the pandemic wall, they are experiencing an overwhelming feeling of emotional exhaustion. It presents a very real challenge that can impact their lives and ultimately their work performance.
As a result, more and more HR professionals are seeking ways to help their employees avoid hitting the Pandemic Wall or find their way through the symptoms of COVID fatigue.
Understanding the Impact of COVID
First, it’s important to understand the true impact COVID is having on society. According to SilverCloud researchers, the pandemic has led to the following issues:
- A staggering 90% of employees are stressed because of the pandemic
- As many as 30% of employees sought mental health treatment since the pandemic
- 32% of employees used sick days not because they had COVID, but because of stress caused by the pandemic
- More than a quarter said they were either “not productive at all” or “less productive” due to the pandemic
Despite vaccination initiatives, people still face living with over a year of the stresses and anxiety the virus has caused. This is why it is so important to have a HR strategy to assist employees who hit the pandemic wall.
Highlight Wellness Options
Make sure all staff understand the resources available to them through their benefits. When people see there are options available, they can use them. A good idea is to reintroduce the benefits package and the particular services that will help them overcome the effects of hitting the pandemic wall. You can help change the perspective and stigma related to what is considered “mental” illness and instead focus on the aspect of general wellness.
If you don’t have such benefits available, look for ways to incorporate them into the workplace. Allow people to participate in activities that make them feel more normal such as exercise programs or arranged virtual happy hours. Other excellent programs could include mindfulness instruction, yoga, or meditation spaces.
Remind People How to Access Benefits
The same SilverCloud study found employees didn’t access their benefits because they either didn’t know they had them or didn’t know how to access them. This can be a little frustrating for HR departments who think they have managed their benefits well. An excellent option is to make access easier using a modern benefits administration solution with a self-serve option. This helps people who might feel embarrassed seeking help for mental health issues do so with more privacy. You can then send out information on how the system works and a list of the mental health programs available.
Offer Tips to Avoid Hitting the Pandemic Wall
Taking a proactive approach helps you reduce costs associated with benefits and introducing new programs. Share tips with employees on a regular basis such as:
- Distraction: Set up an Employee Resource Group where people can find a distraction from the source of their stress. You can also provide resources so employees can create their own groups based on their own interests. Providing a creative outlet where they can learn new skills, or where they can participate in different activities virtually can also provide a distraction to help them avoid hitting that wall.
- Offer Positive Feedback: Keep employees engaged in a more positive mindset by offering positive feedback. Consider introducing a rewards program or ways to endorse accomplishments. This could be as simple as an annual congratulatory package, keeping up with one on one meetings with supervisors, or allowing employees to become involved in new projects. A sense of accomplishment can help people feel better about themselves so they can cope better when they feel down.
- Create a Coping Group: Create a group where people can share their thoughts and feelings about the pandemic. Include people who were able to overcome their anxiety to offer mentorship. Make sure managers have an open-door policy where people can ask for help as well.
While now more people see the light at the end of the tunnel thanks to vaccines, there are still people who might feel they are in a state of chronic uncertainty. Do your best to show employees their jobs are secure and that they matter. Focus on positive updates on the company’s success as well as the vaccination process. Highlight positives like when more local businesses open, so people start to feel a sense of normalcy returning.
Your best course of action is to look for ways to enhance your mental health benefits. Having an employee benefits administration solution that makes it easier for employees to access their benefits is a good first step to support their needs.
About The Author
Ingrid is the Content Marketing Manager at Paypro, managing both inbound and outbound marketing initiatives for the company. She has 15+ years’ of extensive marketing communications experience, leveraging brand awareness and strategic partnerships to increase sales revenue for a diverse group of B2B brands.