The health and wellbeing of the nation has never before been under so much scrutiny and discussion as now during the current COVID-19 pandemic. This has placed stress on our physical health, emotional wellbeing and impacted all aspects of our daily lives. Never before have we placed so much value and effort into protecting the physical and mental wellbeing of ourselves and our loved ones.
During the 2003 SARS and 2014 Ebola virus outbreaks, generalized fear and fear-induced overreactive behaviour were common among the public. In addition, psychiatric disorders, such as depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder, developed in high-risk persons, especially survivors and frontline healthcare workers. In response to lessons learned from past outbreaks many countries, including the UK, have launched various digital health and wellbeing initiatives to reduce the psychosocial effects of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Despite the turmoil many are using this time to reflect and learn new ways of going about our business. COVID-19 has shone a spotlight on the positive and negative aspects of how we live, work and interact with one another. It has given us the opportunity to question aspects of our personal life, employment and finances. Some reflections will be surprising, some uncomfortable but all have made us stop and reconsider what is important to us. We have had to get our heads around new challenges such as working from home, being “furloughed”, home schooling and using video conferencing to keep in touch.
Like many businesses the priority for CMS in the initial phase was working to ensure continuity of services to our clients and finding ways to adapt to an everchanging working environment. Now, as we move into an extended period of lockdown, and uncertainty about what measures will be implemented to remove restrictions, our focus has moved to considering how we can best support our employees.
We are all adapting to a variety of changes, losses and uncertainties that are hugely unsettling and even the most resilient will feel overwhelmed by the enormity of change. Some deal with this by trying to embrace the changes, create new routines or focus on the surprising benefits of this new lifestyle. However, maintaining a long term positive outlook is difficult, especially when we have no “exit” strategy, employees are working remotely (some in isolation and others with family demands) and social distancing removes many of our usual support networks. As a consequence, as well as maintaining business continuity employers are being encouraged to be mindful of supporting employees to adapt. Here is a brief overview of the current research emerging about COVID-19, how CMS have taken action to support our employees and some useful resources.
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