The Covid 19 pandemic has brought unprecedented times of change. The changed world we have experienced in 2020 translates in a number of ways… a changed workspace; isolation for those who live alone; possible stress and even danger for those in difficult household relationships; health and safety concerns for those not able to work a home; dealing with illness and death; financial decisions never considered before.
This has required a change in our coping abilities, and we have been challenged to be flexible and adaptable, to remain positive and see the good in every day, and to be aware of the people around us and the help they also need. Perhaps a big change for employees is to know when to ask for help, and the access to a structured support system / wellness programme creates a safe space for this to happen.
Domestic Violence and Gender Based Violence (GBV) is one example of a particular stress that is being exposed at the moment. In many cases, victims are silent, finding themselves isolated and unable to find a safe space in which to confide in someone. This slowly diminishes the person and their self- worth spiralling into a situation ever less likely to have the confidence to speak out. Ultimately this affects workplace focus and productivity too.
From an employer perspective, we can make a significant difference for our employees in the support we offer them. Over this crisis pandemic period, we have seen the human side of our employees, both in the compassion shown and in the vulnerability shown. We have seen creative relationship-building activities taking place over virtual platforms like zoom, virtual quiz evenings, virtual music events, virtual fitness classes. Being able to supplement this with a formal wellness programme as part of your EVP is a very powerful statement of your commitment to employee wellbeing. It creates the platform to encourage employees to utilise their available resources to make a change. Whether it be for Psychosocial, Financial, Legal Advice and Support, or all of the above, the support is available and is easy to access. Now is an ideal opportunity to maximise the value of adding this to your EVP offering, when employees need it most.
“No longer the preserve of large organisations, more and more companies are seeing the benefits of having an Employee Wellness Program (EWP) in place and are seeing it no longer as a luxury but a necessity in today’s challenging times. 2020 has proven to be a year that is challenging the very foundation we have built and based our lives on. Employers are aware of the stress their employees are under, in financial terms in many cases, but also in terms of mental wellbeing. Many organisations have chosen to outsource this wellness function, with the intention that employees have access to the specialist support and care they need, whether for support or for more serious crisis management.”
Andrea Nel is responsible for Integrated Portfolio Management and Morag Phillips is an Executive Director at 21st Century.