The effect of COVID-19 on employee experience
COVID-19 has inarguably been the biggest shake-up of the business landscape in our lifetime, and it has had an equally large impact on the employee experience. So what's happened?
Boundaries between home and office blur
Before the pandemic, for most employees, life was separated into two parts: life at the workplace and life at home. And it was a challenge for some to balance both with conflicting responsibilities and finite capacity. Enter COVID-19, and this balance has become a whole lot more precarious.
The boundaries between the workplace and home have blurred over the pandemic, with no way to differentiate between professional and personal spaces in some cases. With less structure and socialisation, employee behaviour has changed, and now includes working longer hours.
Complex emotions and uncertainty
Whether it's frustration, anger, sadness, anxiety or grief, employees are experiencing a rise in complex emotions. There is a range of reasons for this, including:
- Social isolation due to lockdowns
- The loss of a loved one due to COVID-19, or the fear of it
- Job security concerns
- Loss of normality
- Concern for family or close friends working in healthcare
- Negativity and sadness in the news cycle
Leaders at work must acknowledge these complex emotions and provide a safe space for employees to work through them, whether this is through an employee assistance program or with wellbeing initiatives such as meditation and mindfulness - or both. Accounting software company Intuit’s wellbeing program reimburses meditation and mindfulness classes for staff and includes incentives for employees who engage in stress-reducing habits, like walking, practicing breathing exercises, or listening to calming music.
Life has always been uncertain, but COVID-19 has taken it up a notch. The unknowns in the workplace have significantly increased as a result of the pandemic. Things like job security, role and responsibilities, returning to the workplace and professional development are probably on your employees' minds right now. Communicating regularly and being as transparent as possible is the best way to allay fears.