When we are no longer able to change our situation, we are challenged to change ourselves – Viktor E. Frankl
Life was not easy for the past one year, yet people and organizations adapted to these challenges. But then, the second wave of pandemic turned out to be stronger, leaving no option but to channelize every ounce of energy and last of resources to treat, recover and heal.
The first wave of pandemic was like a tangent, just about touching through distant communities. But the second wave is like a chord cutting through every nook and corner, ripping everything apart. It is more intense and traumatic than the first. Earlier we were alert to the dangers of covid-19, but now are stuck without an escape route, as it is knocking at almost every door.
The impact of this scenario on physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing of employees is immense – both for the infected (with Covid-19) and affected (those taking care of infected and their families). Employee Wellness has always been prominent in organizations. It just amplified manifold, with conversations, meetings, dashboards, and other resources directed at safety of employees, families, and communities around.
Companies are stepping up by providing various relief measures to employees and their families:
- Emergency Helpline – All organizations, small and big, have created Helpline/Support Groups to provide round the clock information and emergency services.
- Tie up with diagnostic centers – To get various tests on priority and obtain reports sooner.
- Creating infrastructure for isolation and quarantine centers – Converting guest houses, hostels, canteens, and other infrastructure for such purpose
- Online Consultation – With hospitals and doctors for quicker and better treatment.
- Essential medicines – Some precautionary medicines such as paracetamol, multivitamins along with steamers, pulse oximeters, PPE kits and other necessities have been procured by companies so that they may be provided on need-basis.
- Counselling sessions – To aid employees in deciding whether to go for home treatment, selective medication, or hospitalization;
- Ambulance and transport facilities – Hiring ambulances or using company transport to commute in case of emergency (to reach hospital, diagnostics, or any other support during such times).
- Vaccination –Manufacturing, IT, Infrastructure, and other companies have carried out vaccination drive for health and safety of all their direct and indirect workforce.
- Accommodation – For staff, contract labour etc., to ease the burden of commuting.
- Food & Nutrition – Companies are arranging to provide nutritious food to the affected employees and families. Immunity booster diet menu is introduced for those attending office.
- Wellness sessions – On meditation, relaxation, simple yoga and to address other immediate health concerns, combat stress and overcome fatigue.
SHORT TERM MEASURES
- Energizing through Communication – Even after the intensity of the wave subsides, there is a need to energize the staff and families to come out of the after-effects of the pandemic. Managers, Leaders and HR should create “Share and Care” platforms for employees to draw strength from each other.
- Addressing the anxiety about work and job – Other than the Pandemic, one will be anxious about several other things – wellbeing of self and family, worry about job, discomfort of being restricted, underequipped to continue WFH etc. These anxieties, if not addressed will become more severe affecting health and wellbeing.
- Reduced work week – For the next one month or so, many organizations have announced four-day work week or less workhours, to reduce the exposure and keep away from work pressure.
- Special Leave – Some organizations have introduced a few days of ‘Care-Leave’, for employees to spend time with family. Covid positive employees are given 28 days fully paid leave, which can be combined with the existing leave balance.
- Insurance coverage – The existing insurance turned out to be insufficient for treatment of covid. Hence, many organizations have taken Covid Specific Life Insurance for their employees.
- Employee and Family Support Programs – Sensing the need to reach out, reassure, restore confidence, and to reiterate that ‘everything is going to be alright’, special Coaching, Counselling, Comforting sessions have been initiated so that everyone is able to gain strength and move on without losing hope.
LONG TERM MEASURES
- Initiatives for deceased employee’s family – In the event of the unfortunate demise of an employee, many companies have announced that family shall continue to receive salary for the next one or two years, compassionate appointment of spouse or other family member, education support to children up to graduation, onetime ex-gratia amount, insurance coverage to family etc. These initiatives will not erase the pain of the family but provide much required financial support.
- Focus on physical fitness – Regular physical activity benefits the body and mind. Doctors have said that healthy body recovers faster to the effects of Covid-19. We all want things to be ‘normal’ soon, but if that normal did not include time for physical fitness, it is time to create a ‘new normal’. Organizations should start fitness goals that encourage and motivate employees to take care of their physical fitness. Such wellbeing is a long-term goal.
- Mental Wellbeing – The pandemic, especially the second phase, has been hard on people, as most of them are terrified and heartbroken for having lost loved ones, friends, and family. Individual Counselling, Group Conversations, Sharing-Sessions will encourage them to open-up and overcoming grief, anxiety, and despair.
- Hobby clubs – Reading, music, painting, gardening, and whole lot of other hobby clubs are a fantastic way to keep the employees engaged, happy and connected.
The Pandemic has been an eye-opener on emergency preparedness and strength to survive. There is increased emphasis on “Wellness” on all fronts and organizations need to invest in solutions that are impactful. Physical fitness, right mindset, a little patience and being more careful will lead all of us to better times ahead.
Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it – Hellen Keller.