Lockdown’s side-effects: Anxiety levels up as appraisals get delayed, job loss fears rise

Devasia further said that "in these tough times, corporations will care more about those who have contributed to the growth of the organisation".
Lockdown’s side-effects: Anxiety levels up as appraisals get delayed, job loss fears rise
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A lot many are fearing loss of job, some have already seenpay cuts and appraisals are getting delayed almost for everyone — The COVID-19crisis and the ongoing lockdown has left employees feeling anxious and worriedabout their future, prompting many corporates to look for ways to keep thestaff motivated.

Some are roping in psychologists to conduct "happinesssessions" for staff members over video conferencing, others have decided tokeep communicating with them regularly about business updates and a few arealso promising necessary steps to safeguard their career progression along withadditional perks for "performers" during such difficult times.

Experts said there is high stress that the current crisishas brought upon employees as well as organisations, and with the lockdown notlooking to end soon, the emotional challenges employees are confronting haveincreased manifold.

"Yes, there is some amount of anxiety as it is asituation many of us including organisations have never been faced with. Interms of appraisals, it is too early to say on the stand of the organizationsas Covid-19 has an impact on the employer as well in terms of business,"Sudeep Sen, Business Head- Industrial Manufacturing and Engineering $@$#General Staffing, TeamLease Services, said.

On top of it, some retail touch points have remained openduring the pandemic and employees who are still working onsite in industriessuch as healthcare, food services and critical manufacturing operations willhave different stress levels and concerns than those working from home.

Onsite employees are under extreme worry of being infectedby co-workers or customers. They are worried if the organization will be ableto provide sufficient workplace safety and one of their biggest worries is totravel to work without being stopped by cops.

At times like this, some employers are going the extra mileand rewarding their onsite employees in essential sectors with appreciationallowance, besides taking several steps to ensure employee safety includingregular sanitisation of high-touch surfaces, provision of masks, installingsanitisers stations and conducting temperature checks for all associates.

"We are particularly grateful to associates who work inour stores and are selflessly serving the community at this time. Inrecognition, we will provide every field associate an appreciation allowance ofRs 200 per day over and above their pay for every day of attendance during thelockdown period," a Walmart India spokesperson said.

"We are also committed to ensuring safe transport forour store associates and are providing conveyance reimbursement to them in theabsence of local transport," the spokesperson added.

In order to survive these tough times HR leaders and peoplemanagers are encouraging and supporting employees, communicating with themregularly about the business updates, positive news and actions organizationsare taking to come out of the situation. Many companies are also conductingspecial online sessions for the staff to keep them motivated and stress-free.

Psychologist and 'happiness coach' Sakshi Mandhyan, who wasbeen roped in by various corporate houses for such online 'happiness classes',said we get anxious when we think about the future that is actuallyunpredictable and uncertain.

"If we talk about the current situation, many peoplewould have made plans for April and the coming months on the basis ofappraisals they were expecting this month. But sadly that is nothappening," she said.

Mandhyan, who was earlier associated with Max Hospitals andnow runs Mandhyan Care, said what people need to do is try to change thingsthat are in their own hands, rather than worry about things outside theircontrol.

"For example, whether one would have a job or not isnot entirely in one's control in such a scenario, but how to manage availablefinances is still controllable. So, spending smartly is the key point here.

"The good part is expenses have gone down due to peoplestaying home mostly and therefore the way forward can be learning to get backto basics — that is learning to manage with basic necessities and cut down onunnecessary or avoidable luxuries. We need to understand that a few generationsback, such kind of expenditure was not happening and people were stillhappy," Mandhyan said.

"The best trait humans have is their ability to adaptto things and to manage to survive in every kind of situation. There will beinitial difficulties, but gradually, we all will get used to it and we willmake peace with the changing situations. Having the natural survival instincts,human beings adapt to any given situation. There would be changes in the way wewind down, such as we may start having card parties at home rather than goingto a party outside our homes," she added.

Many organisations are offering online toolkits andresources so all employees have what they need to operate productively. Somecompanies have also taken to this time to drive their Learning and Developmentinitiatives.

"Organisations are equally worried about their employeewell-being, positive mental state and ability to remain stable and loyal. Thisworry is more so for employees who perform well or are potentialperformers," said Ashissh Kaul – Associate Director, Advisory Services,SHRM India.

Providing these employees a clear and proper roadmap oftheir career post COVID-19 times has also been a priority, Kaul said addingthat many organisations are offering coupons to order meals, ensuring benefitslike access to online yoga classes etc as an incentive.

"This is a time of responsibility from both employersand employees. Corporates must show more empathy towards their staff, beingtransparent with business conditions and helping set clear expectations willhelp ease out stress," global executive recruitment organisation AntalInternational India Managing Director Joseph Devasia said.

Devasia further said that "in these tough times,corporations will care more about those who have contributed to the growth ofthe organisation".

He noted that every organisation will be faced withdownsizing at some point over the next 12 months, hence reviewing salaries,perks, benefits and knocking off bonuses or increments would be normal. In suchcircumstances loyalty and retention take a second stand, versus ensuringsustainance of business.

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