Bolstering workers’ well-being amid pandemic disruptions

When coronavirus pandemic lockdowns forced widespread business disruptions, workers lost some of their sense of belonging and connection, according to Eileen McNeely of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

McNeely is executive director of SHINE (Sustainability and Health Initiative for Netpositive Enterprise), which researches the factors that underpin good jobs and successful companies that care for both people and the planet. In a December 8, 2020 Forbes article, McNeely noted that, with their normal work lives disrupted, people are missing “a key access point to what makes them happy, healthy and well.”

McNeely discussed a study she conducted with SHINE colleagues during the pandemic in which workers reported an increase in anxiety and isolation, as well as a decline in their sense of control and their ability to concentrate. McNeely said the findings have implications for business leaders, noting, for example, that employees could have multiple, competing needs—on the one hand, craving social interaction and connection, while on the other, needing to be free of distraction in order to focus.

On the positive side, a large percentage of workers reported that their employers have been more compassionate and empathetic during the pandemic, and that their co-workers have been more helpful and supportive, according to McNeely.

McNeely said that business leaders should keep in mind the vital role that work plays in people’s mental health and sense of social connectedness as they steer their companies through the pandemic.

Read the Forbes article: Harvard Initiative Shines A Light On The Vital Role Of Employee Well-Being In The Workplace