WFH During Covid2019: Safeguarding Employees’ Mental Health

WFH During Covid2019- Safeguarding Employees' Mental Health

The work-from-home model is one of the many topics that have come up in discussions centred on the future of work. However, the rapid spread of the coronavirus outbreak has compelled millions of people around the world to work from home indeterminately – an action mandated by governments both in Singapore and other countries to slow down the spread of the virus. 

What are some of the measures taken by the government in Singapore? Aside from safe distancing and quarantining orders, technology-enabled apps have enabled the quicker and more efficient method of collecting data for contact tracing. Likewise, circuit breaker measures may have compelled businesses to shift to telecommuting but they are essential in easing local transmissions

As we stay at home, many points of consideration are coming up. The clearest issue at heart is how we can take care of our health and wellness better? Pandemics are unpredictable events that could overturn the realities of many – just as the Covid-2019 did. When it concerns health, not only are employee benefits based insurance and hospital insurance plans sufficient, our daily actions also play a part in long-term security and safety of our health. Planning for the long-term can benefit us. 

As a leading healthcare management and provider of solutions for globally-mobile expats, Expat Insurance offers trusted advice and services for all your health and wellness insurance needs in Singapore. Our team has worked with both individuals and corporations. Find out more about our services here. 

What Is Working From Home Like?

Now that majority of employees are working from home, how has the new normal impacted them?

Working from home brings a multitude of benefits along with it. From flexible scheduling to reduced travel times, everyone stands to benefit from the increased amount of time on their hands. Parents are able to spend more time watching their children and individuals alike have the luxury of additional personal time – whether it is to cook their own meals or develop their self-interests and hobbies. Like every other thing in the world, there are downsides that come along with the advantages. Parents may now struggle to segregate work hours from family time and perhaps find it challenging to focus on work in a crowded house. Increased amounts of time without social interaction can isolate and trigger anxiety in individuals living alone. Humans are, after all, social creatures.

Employee Benefits – More Than Insurance in Singapore

As a result of the new normal, many self-help videos, blogs and resources have popped up online – all targeted at helping isolated individuals to stay connected via social media. Group workouts, online book discussions, Zoom hangouts are all but methods of retaining human connection. 

That said, employers themselves need to think about the different measures that must be put in place to help employees navigate these uncertain times. There are different stresses that employees face as they work from home during a pandemic. Job security, a sense of belonging to the company and additional support are just some factors employers need to consider. 

This is a time where employers need to know and understand their employees better. Your employee may be a primary caregiver to elderly parents at home, a struggling single parent or an expat living alone far away from home. Today, employee benefits go far beyond fair compensation and basic health insurance in Singapore and abroad. How can you factor these into your business continuity plan?

Key Considerations For Businesses on WFH & Continuity Plans

A pandemic such as this exemplifies the need for businesses to demonstrate adaptability and flexibility. Businesses rarely get notified of disasters or threats and this is where a business continuity plan comes in useful. Business continuity plans – a necessity for all businesses – outlines the potential impact of these disasters and supplements policies and next steps to help businesses sustain and recover during the period. 

What should business continuity plans cover? 

Key responsibilities, risk mitigation plans and plan maintenance protocols are some aspects the plan should cover. Each situation is different and with Covid-2019, factors employers may not have considered before may be of priority now. 

Your employees’ health and well-being is of utmost importance, especially during a time like this. Not only is physical health crucial, but protecting and taking care of mental health is also an aspect that must be covered in business continuity plans. Hospital insurance plans and employee benefits insurance coverage are components that safeguard physical well-being but what can you do to keep the mental well-being healthy? 

Having trouble coping with anxiety brought on by pandemic? Read more on coping strategies here

Agility and adaptability are key cornerstones in business protection plans – but most importantly, insurance coverage plans and back-up measures to ensure a sense of belonging to the company are essential components of employee wellness. Your people make up the business!

Physical Health & Wellness

Even as employees work from home, it is important that they are informed of how they can stay healthy and safe. 

Employers can either create their own resource guides on safe practices such as the regular washing of hands or refer their employees to official sources such as the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Ministry of Manpower (MOM) for updated press releases and news. 

However, employees should at the very least, be aware of tell-tale symptoms such as coughing, fever and shortness of breath to seek medical attention if necessary. 

The increased focus on physical well-being during this pandemic reinforces the huge importance of health coverage – be it hospital and surgical, outpatient or general health insurance in Singapore. Given the high healthcare costs in Singapore, planning for expat health cover is a wise decision to make – pandemic or not.

Mental Health & Well-Being

How can employers keep employees engaged during a period of isolation? 

Though often overlooked, good mental health is equally important to overall health. Taking extra care and caution to engage your employee with empathy and support can be very helpful in tiding over the stressful times.

  1. Clear Communication

    Reinforcing clear and standard communication protocols can be necessary in efforts to maintain, or even, improve the connection between employees and employers.

    Your employees may have questions concerning their benefits or insurance plan in Singapore – given the current circumstances. Expats with only company health cover may be particularly concerned about any changes or updates. To facilitate smooth and productive conversations, employers need to be informed about the insurance plan protocols and what policy updates are coming up in the time of the pandemic.

    Let our team of professionals help you navigate communication efforts around expat health cover. Schedule a call with us.

  2. Regular Check-Ins

    Extended periods of isolation can take a toll on communication efforts. The coronavirus pandemic is new for many of us – learning to navigate our feelings around can be tough. Fears surrounding job security, efficiencies of work and the general concerns around the development of the virus can compound over time.

    On top of existing expat and local employee health cover, employers can supplement their benefits and wellness scheme with additional communication tools in their business continuity plans. For example, weekly hangouts on Zoom and group workout sessions can help protect company culture.

Caring During A Crisis 

Granted, no one saw this coming. The pandemic is an entirely new situation the world is facing and as a result, we are noticing how people are reacting and adapting to it in different ways. Employers today face an entirely new challenge in connecting and supporting their employees through the pandemic as well. 

Not only are employee benefits schemes, hospital insurance plans and adequate expat health cover more than necessary today, they have become touchpoints that are crucial in managing overall well-being. Just knowing that their health is insured can go a long way in assuring them. Many may overlook the significance of expat and local employees’ health cover but there is no better time than now to do so. 

To understand how you can support your employees through the pandemic, contact us for a discussion.

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