by | May 7, 2020

What Does COVID-19 Mean for Mental Health in Your Business?

How are you? Yes you. How were you feeling as you went into lockdown? How are you feeling now that we are moving back to a situation where normality (or our ‘new normal’) will resume?

Personally, going into lockdown was wonderful for me (please refrain from judgement whilst I explain). I am an introvert by nature and love nothing more than working from home on client projects and having my family around me. My husband, a builder, lost 100% of revenue from day one of lockdown – so yes, that hurt. But, it meant that he could spend quality time with our kids – which he hasn’t done in the 14 years that they have been on this earth. I enjoyed not needing to run around every day between 7.00am – 9.00pm with everyday pursuits from sports training, teaching, work, travel etc. I relished being looked after by my husband who would pop into my office with snacks and drinks all day and would create fantastic meals every night (sausage, beans and mash becoming a staple!). I got fitter through walking daily and talked more than ever with family overseas.

However, on the other side – I have been deeply impacted by the strains of leading a team and needing to make decisions in regards to redundancies and reduced hours; I have been with my clients every step as they make tough calls about their teams and whether to even keep their doors open; and, I see and hear the personal sad stories that impact friends and family every day.

Some days, I totally isolated myself – not wanting to be at team meetings as mentally I wasn’t up to it and thought it was best to leave the meetings in the capable hands of our GM rather than not being ‘at my best.’ Some days I felt totally trapped and had a sense that I was going stir crazy. I couldn’t sleep at night and is it just me or does anyone else experience the most surreal dreams when in lockdown?

I also know that right now, I don’t have any desire to go back out again … apart from seeing my immediate family and going for walks, I have not left my house for nearly 7 weeks; and, now I am wondering if I am becoming a comfortable recluse.

Anyone will tell you, I am a glass half full… (more a full glass) type of person, and if I am feeling the impact of COVID-19 on my mental health – how is everyone else feeling and what will it be like when we are all thrust into the world to interact with others on a daily basis?

The World Economic Forum (April 2020) predicts that with around 2.6 billion people having been in some kind of lockdown, in the second half of the year as ‘business as usual’ resumes, there will be a secondary epidemic of burnouts and stress related absenteeism.

In China, the effects of mental health are already being reported and where parents are quarantined with their children the impact is intensified with 28% of parents diagnosed with ‘trauma-related mental health disorder.’ So, when you say your kids are driving you crazy right now, there may be an element of truth here.

What can you do to support your mental health and that of your team right now? These are the things that we do at POD – if you have more ideas, let us know:

  • Weekly catch up – every Monday we connect on video to share our commitments for the week, our successes from the previous week, share our learnings and do a team building activity
  • Daily huddle – at 8.45am there is a video call with the whole team to check in on their priority for the day and to ask where they need support
  • One-on-ones – again by video, everyone checks in with their managers and yes there is a focus on work priorities, but there is an equal focus on ‘how are you?’
  • Focus sessions – for example, Gwyn our GM is doing a session with the team today on our future focused goals for the next 90 days
  • Friday drinks – this is a 40 minute video get together where the team can unwind, do a quiz, chat about the weekend and relax

One of my clients sent a care pack to his team – toilet rolls too! I thought this was a great gesture.

At POD, we are quite an ‘enlightened’ team in many ways with us being advocates of mindfulness, meditation and having in-team mental health first aid expertise, as well as two yoga teachers. This I believe does help with us getting to a deeper level when needed with each other and being tuned in to the needs and/or feelings of others.

If you want to find out more about equipping your managers and teams to aid the mental health of your team – you may be able to access RBPN funding of up to $2,500 to do this within your business. Reach out if you would like to know more info@pod.co.nz or call 0800 0800 476 347.

Here is what one of our clients had to say about one of our mental health and mindfulness sessions last month:

“Thanks Catherine for a really inspiring and informative session on helping our mental health space. There were some great tips and advice that I can definitely take away and start putting into practice! The ‘clarity’ zone that you shared is something that is really important, and I can see lots of benefits from applying these resources.” Attendee of Mental Health & Mindfulness Session, Business Owner, Wellington

By Sharn Rayner, Managing Partner – Business Advisory

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