LEADERS: HOW ARE THEY MAINTAINING THEIR MENTAL HEALTH DURING THE PANDEMIC?
The COVID-19 pandemic has been said to be the greatest challenge for leaders till date, mainly due its unpredictability. With the rapid change in workplace dynamics, the corporate leaders around the world were suddenly faced with increased responsibilities and had to dive deep down into the problem-solving mode. From helping employees adapt to the new norms and ensuring their well-being to attending to the clients’ needs, the leaders had to do it all.
But have you ever wondered what toll is it taking on the leaders? The anchors that are keeping our companies afloat need attention before they hit rock bottom.
HOW THE LEADERS ARE TAKING CARE OF THEIR OWN MENTAL HEALTH?
Maintaining the mental health has become more important now than ever, since our socialization and movement has become limited.
When asked about how the leaders are taking care of their mental health in this new normal in spite of handling new responsibilities in the workplace, the head of a leading consultancy agency shared, “It’s mostly about maintaining a balance. Avoid overworking and try to take small 15-minute breaks during work-hours and try focusing on non-work activities. Read books, listen to songs or just simply talk with your partner. For me, cooking and trying out new recipes, with my 16-year-old, did wonders. Refreshed me. I even started working out by following some You-Tube videos, and I must say it just makes you feel lighter!”
The positive effect of exercise on mental health was also emphasized by a Director of a reputed FMCG company, “Regular rigorous exercise (at least 5km walk/run minimum 3 times a week), Seeing a therapist for mental wellbeing, Meditation and Yoga is what kept me going.”
But are these tangible activities the only way to add peace to your mind? On this he added, “The ability to help others – in whichever form – charity, volunteer work, teaching, mentoring young professionals to face the new reality, etc. has given meaning to this baneful existence.”
COPING THE WRONG WAY
While some leaders are trying their best to have a sound mental health with positive attitude, some are coping with it the wrong way- be it through being difficult to work with, covering their stress with detrimental habits, etc.
A professor of Indian Institute of Management shared that the bosses are themselves very stressed due to the uncertainty of the projects during the pandemic. With work-from-home dynamic, they are in constant pressure to get the work done. This form of tension makes incidents of bad words and blaming more prevalent, harming the organizational culture.
On the other hand, in extreme scenarios, some might even indulge in alcohol or drugs to relieve from stress. According to a new market research, the purchase of alcohol in the USA increased by more than 50% during this pandemic, which is very alarming.
THE AFTER EFFECTS OF NOT ADDRESSING THE ISSUE
Long work hours can increase mental stress and can cause behavioral issues along with mental health concerns. If this issue is not addressed then it might result in aggressive outbursts on employees or on family, lack of focus and clarity, and becoming more demanding of others.
Some leaders are even said to be turning into bullies in the process of demanding for more work from their employees, becoming mean and inconsiderate of the employee’s condition. Even a recent research stated that workplace bullying is a rising concern in the UK during the pandemic.
Prolonged anxiety and mental fatigue can even crush down the strongest of the leaders. So these issues need to be solved, before the matter goes out of hand.
ARE OUR WOMEN LEADERS STILL DEALING WITH ADDITIONAL HURDLES?
With the physical barrier of workplace being shattered because of the new work-from-home culture, the female leaders have to deal with their employees, resolve client issues and manage their children and household chores 24/7. Surely, more work than what their male counterpart might do. And COVID-19 has added to the motherhood penalty.
Motherhood penalty refers to the systematic wage gap and low perceived competence that working mothers face compare to the non-mothers and men in the workplace. These biases get amplified when there is ambiguity, for example- remote working- where the management cannot trace what the employees are doing all the time. This also applies for the female leaders as the employees and the management might stereotype and think they are giving more time to their children rather than to their work.
According to CBS new, companies have promoted less women in leadership roles during the pandemic, in spite of the findings of the Harvard Business Review, which stated that female leaders are better at handling crisis due to their better interpersonal skills
WHAT ARE THE ORGANIZATIONS DOING TO HELP EASE THE LEADERS?
Some organizations are providing free telemedicine services and psychosocial counselling for the leaders as well. One of the leading managers of a reputed social enterprise of our country shared how he himself availed free mental health services from the organization’s in-house certified professional. “There is a strict protocol to maintain confidentiality, so I did not have to worry about privacy,” the leader also added. Other reputed organizations are also planning to introduce insurance programs and set up their own day-care centers to help their leaders and employees with childcare assistance. And all of these steps are taken to help ease the stress of the captains in the new COVID era.
By Anika Tahsin Lisa