Workplace Productivity and Mental Health Affected by COVID-19

Workplace Productivity and Mental Health Affected by COVID-19
Workplace Productivity and Mental Health Affected by COVID-19

Workplace Productivity and Mental Health Affected by COVID-19

There is no doubt that Covid has hit almost every aspect of daily life, from grocery shopping to socialising, to working. All across the planet, industry has been damaged by the effects of the virus and enforced lockdowns.

While there is a financial toll from restricted trade, and there has been mass unemployment for individuals, there has also been a hidden cost. Mental health concerns have arisen during the pandemic, with more people being diagnosed and treated than ever it would seem.

One area hit very hard, perhaps the hardest was of course the health service. Health workers have been on the front line since the start of the pandemic, and the NCBI reports that many of these health workers have been diagnosed with PTSD, depression, stress, and anxiety directly related to Covid, and working with patients.

It isn’t just health workers who have struggled with their mental health though. People in all walks of life have found it hard to cope, and this is affecting businesses getting back to full strength.

How has Covid affected the workplace?

The first effect the pandemic had on many industries, was to help introduce enforced lockdowns. Initially, most businesses could weather a two-week lockdown, but then many started to fail.

In the tourism and hospitality industries, it wasn’t long before mass lay-offs occurred. World-famous tourist venues such as Goa and Las Vegas became ghost towns. Workers faced becoming jobless, and unemployment grew.

A large number of companies adapted to the changes and brought in remote working. While others that were deemed essential services carried on as normal.

How badly has mental health been affected by Covid?

India was hit harder than most, and in May 2021 over 400,000 daily new cases were diagnosed in a week WION reported. While the fatalities and physical symptoms have been reported over the news channels, mental health has been given something of a back seat.

Many workers started to experience symptoms of anxiety due to having to continue traveling to work. Fear of infection led many to suffer from stress, and this led to absenteeism from work. Others carried on working but have found their productivity levels lowered as their mental wellness deteriorated.

Many people have pre-existing mental health conditions that have worsened. Others have developed problems due to bereavement, worry, and fear. Some turned to alcohol and drugs to self-medicate.

How has this affected productivity?

Anyone suffering from mental health concerns is unlikely to be performing at their peak condition. Mental health concerns, including depression, can be crippling and literally leave the sufferer bed-bound.

Workers taking unapproved absences, turning up late for work, or not being able to function as normal, will reduce productivity in any industry. Employers should look at ways they can help their workers’ mental health.

Establishing help and recognition for mental health problems due to Covid, and other issues will benefit the company and the worker. Investing in help for the worker will lead to a far more productive future for employer and employee.

What can be done to help workers with mental health issues?

There are a number of types of depression, and due to the various causes, the treatments can vary.

One of the first things to do is to carry out a full medical check on the patient. This is to establish that there is, or isn’t any underlying cause for the illness. Some medications can cause depression, as can substance abuse, and past traumas.

In the case of mental health issues concerning Covid, there are a number of treatments available. One treatment for depression is counselling, and this can help patients to develop coping strategies. Using therapy is often a preferable way to deal with mental health issues than by prescription drugs.

Medication is sometimes inevitable for certain patients if there are no factors that can be dealt with through therapy. With Covid, however, there is a very clear factor that can be dealt with through methods such as counselling.

Can lifestyle and work changes help with mental health concerns?

An employer who is invested in the health of their workers during the pandemic could look at some other solutions.

Allowing workers to carry out their tasks at home, or another location may allay some of the concerns they have. This could lead to their stress and anxiety being reduced. However, this isn’t possible for all workers or their employers.

Workers themselves may benefit from making some lifestyle changes. Symptoms of depression are improved through yoga, exercise, meditation, improved diets, and losing weight.

Cutting out caffeine, alcohol, and processed foods can lead to feeling better overall, which also affects mental wellness. Alcohol itself is a depressant, and so should be avoided in anyone suffering from mental health problems.

Is remote working the answer?

It would be easy to believe that having an army of remote workers is the answer. To a degree it is. It has been shown that remote workers are by and large, more productive, and happier.

However, employers need to still keep an eye on their workers’ health in this situation. Many people have found the isolation of working alone has affected their mental health.

Some also suffer more from seasonal depression when working this way. Some lifestyle changes can improve seasonal depression symptoms, but employers could benefit from putting into place a mental health plan.

What would the employer gain by addressing this issue?

For a business to be successful, it needs to turn a profit. Simply put, a company needs to have more money going in than it does heading in the opposite direction.

For this to happen, best work practices need to be observed, processes put into place to allow production to go smoothly, and the business needs to be liquid.

The most important cogs in the business though, are the workers. Looking after them means having a loyal and happy workforce. Neglecting their physical and mental health, or their working conditions will end with poor productivity and higher turnover of staff.

An employer in the time of Covid should address mental health in the workplace to increase productivity and profitability. It isn’t cynical to be concerned about profitability. After all, that is what business is about. If employees are helped with their problems, they will be more productive. The company will then prosper, and everyone is more certain of a successful future.

Summary

Many companies now recognise the importance of mental health in the workplace. In the past, mental health concerns were often not talked about or dismissed as not important.

The pandemic has shown just how prevalent these issues are. As people spent longer periods alone than before, and feelings of isolation set it, mental health issues grew. For workers needing to commute there is the battle between the fear of infection or the possibility of having no money. Many people have had to decide between feeding their children or risking getting infected by working. Most went for the latter.

This constant worry has led to many people suffering from constant stress and anxiety. Depression has left many people crippled and unable to function properly, affecting their work lives and the companies they work for.

Fortunately, there are many treatments for depression now, and employers can play their part in making sure their workers receive the help they need.

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