Tips for dealing with the challenges brought by the pandemic

Many organisations are struggling to survive amid the pandemic and are hoping that their employees can ride out the storm with them. However, by focusing on the company’s performance, they may neglect the mental health of their employees.

Cisco’s Executive Vice President and Chief People, Policy & Purpose Officer, Francine Katsoudas, said that health-related topics are very important today. In the past, there was a clear division between work and life, and a work-life balance could be achieved. However, amid the pandemic, hybrid work has become commonplace, and employees are more likely to work from home, blurring the line between work and family life. In addition to discussing development and marketing strategies, organisations must also focus on the mental health of their employees.

Organisations of different sizes and cultures face different challenges during the pandemic. Katsoudas offers three key recommendations:

  1. Listen: Listen to the ideas and suggestions of your stakeholders, especially your employees. 
  2. Stay flexible: Under the new normal, a flexible working model may be more suitable for keeping pace in the rapidly changing market, which is favourable to operational and business development.
  3. Focus on mental health: From a human resources perspective, employees’ mental health is becoming increasingly important.

In the wake of the pandemic, organisations are under pressure to manage their human resources, which is often the focus of discussions on future development and coping with current changes. Katsoudas believes that there is no going “back to the past” in terms of working patterns. “It is very important that we accept and keep ourselves open to changes as well as learning new things,” she says.  

But, how can employers protect talent in a post-pandemic world? According to CIPD, we can start by focussing on the mental health of employees. Many employees, especially those in key departments, are under increased and prolonged work pressure during the pandemic, which can affect their mental health.

Be aware that, whether employees are still working from home or at the office for whatever reasons, they may experience fatigue or adjustment problems. Employers should pay extra attention and provide support, as needed. Fatigue could be addressed by something as simple as the software you choose to deploy through the company. Webex, for example, offers insights that correlate with the goals an individual sets for their meetings, work-life integration, connections, and focus time affording them more control over their workday.

Effective collaboration tools also enhance spreadsheets and budgeting software can help employees complete repetitive but important work more quickly and with fewer opportunities for error. 

“On that note, business must also be cognisant of peer stress, which sees the stress of one employee inadvertently passing on to another at work,” says Katsoudas. “Employers are advised to help reduce the stress of their employees as soon as possible to prevent negative emotions from growing.” 

She goes on to say that the fact that employees’ productivity at Cisco did not drop during the pandemic is believed to be related to the company’s emphasis on employee safety. 

“Cisco will launch a new global leadership training program that focuses on topics related to health and well-being to ensure that employees have the tools to take care of their physical and mental health. Employees will learn how to take care of themselves, so that they can take care of their subordinates’ health.”

For the first time, Cisco has also introduced “A Day for Me” – an extra day off for employees to enjoy a real holiday, without the need to attend virtual meetings or respond to emails.

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