The global pandemic of the past few years has left an indelible mark on our collective consciousness. Beyond the physical health implications, COVID-19 has taken a toll on mental well-being, contributing to what can be termed as “pandemic trauma.”
As we grapple with the aftermath, we must recognize the impact on individuals and society. According to a survey by Garter, 82% of employees say they want companies to identify them as a whole person rather than just an asset.
Effects of Pandemic Trauma on Performance
Pandemic trauma encompasses the psychological and emotional repercussions of living through a global crisis. From the grief of losing loved ones to the stress of economic instability, the trauma has affected people in many ways on a personal and professional level.
The loss of routine and a sense of normalcy during the pandemic has affected motivation levels for many employees. Staying motivated to produce high-quality work can be challenging when faced with ongoing uncertainties.
During the pandemic, the blurred lines between work and personal life led to increased burnout cases. While working from home provided some flexibility, it also eroded the clear separation between the office and home environment. The absence of a physical commute meant that employees no longer had a precise transition period between work and personal life, leading to a constant state of being “plugged in.”
According to a Gallup report, employees entered the peak stress stage in 2020 due to the pandemic. 44% of employees worldwide said they felt stressed the previous work day.
So, how can companies address declining performance?
Let’s take a look at some of the top trends companies are adopting:
Healing Pandemic Trauma
Recovery from pandemic trauma is a gradual process that requires self-awareness, compassion, and intentional efforts. Here are some strategies:
Proactive rest is a concept that encourages employees to take intentional breaks, engage in stress-relieving activities, and maintain a healthy work-life balance as a preventive measure rather than a reactive one. It’s about recognizing the importance of mental and physical rejuvenation before signs of burnout become apparent. Here are some aspects of it:
- No-meeting Fridays
- Encouraging employees to take short, mindful breaks throughout the day, especially before stressful working periods
- Allotted wellness time
- Educating managers on giving their team adequate PTO
Regular Team Meetings
Regular team meetings are essential for fostering discussion opportunities. These gatherings provide a structured environment where team members can share updates, discuss ongoing projects, and address concerns without fearing being judged.
Encourage an open dialogue by creating an agenda with a designated time for team members to voice their thoughts, ideas, and questions. This not only keeps everyone informed but also promotes a sense of inclusivity.
Providing Trauma Counselors
Trauma counselors establish a safe space where employees can openly discuss their experiences. This secure environment is essential for individuals to feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and emotions without fear of repercussions. These counselors also coach managers on how to understand the plight of their team.
In situations where immediate support is required, trauma counselors provide crisis intervention. This may involve helping managers navigate overwhelming emotions when talking with employees, connecting them with emergency services if needed, and ensuring they have the necessary support systems in place.
Healing from pandemic trauma is an ongoing process that requires patience and self-compassion. Managers must give employees time to reintegrate themselves into their professional responsibilities gradually. Start small and provide them with the opportunity to take on more. This step-by-step approach can prevent overwhelming feelings and support a sustainable return to optimal performance.