11 May, 2020


The extreme measures put in place to limit the spread of coronavirus have transformed the workplace as never before. Entire workforces now have to work from home, people who had work to do one day have been furloughed, with nothing to do the next, and entire industries have ground to a halt.


The impact of this on the mental health of the workforce is not to be underestimated.


According to psychological research, there are four elements that are essential to building the resilience needed to stay healthy under pressure. Known as the 4C’s, these are our need for positive interaction with others (community), wanting to feel part of something important (commitment), the chance to stretch ourselves without feeling overwhelmed (challenge), and the need to have a sense of control over our daily lives (control).


With coronavirus forcing governments to assume control over where people work, how they socialise and even when they can and can’t leave their house, the ways in which we used to go about meeting the above psychological needs is now being severely compromised.


Add to that the extent to which people who were already struggling with loneliness, anxiety, domestic violence or even suicidal thoughts will have had existing problems exacerbated by the crisis, and it’s essential that employers think about proactively protecting the mental health of the workforce at this time. Including how best to adapt critical incident plans to minimise the trauma associated with coronavirus related deaths within the organisation.


By encouraging managers to show the caring face of the organisation and making better use of Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs), employers can identify and support those who are struggling. While sharing learnings from Positive Psychology, from the value of cognitive behaviour therapy and the philosophy of stoicism for changing how we feel about events, to the happiness tools we can all use to boost our emotional wellbeing, will protect the mental health of the workforce both now and in the future.


For more insights on how you can help support the mental health of your colleagues at this testing time, download our free guide below and listen back to our recent webinar.

Wolfgang Seidl
Wolfgang Seidl
Workplace Health Solutions Leader UK and Europe, Mercer

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