Remember what ‘work-life balance’ meant before COVID-19? It was the idea that your workforce was spending too much time at work and not enough at home with their family or friends. It was a big deal, spawning reams of text in business magazines and plenty of advice from corporate gurus.
Many of us would attend management courses on the importance of employee work-life balance and would pay close attention to office hours and holiday allowances. But with the pandemic, that’s all vanished. Most employees have been forced to work from home for an extended period, juggling video-conferencing sessions with home schooling and forsake after-work social gatherings for long evenings with Netflix and meal deliveries.
Adapting to this hasn’t been easy. As many experienced last year, working from home makes it harder to switch off from work and maintain a healthy routine. Stress levels can rise, too. Although the home should be the last place where your employees feel stressed, trying to work from their kitchen or bedroom adds a whole new world of pressure to their lives.
Reasons to be positive
The reason we have all been confined to quarters is, of course, because we are in the midst of the worst pandemic in a century. People have lost loved ones. And others may have survived the disease but are still suffering from long COVID, a new condition that is only beginning to be understood. No wonder many employees are finding life stressful. That said, there are also reasons for optimism.
The last 18 months have yielded heart-warming examples of humanity at its best, from the Herculean efforts of healthcare workers, to the unprecedented scientific effort involved in bringing vaccines to market. For many, the forced break away from hectic lives, filled with commuting and business travel has provided an opportunity to appreciate some of life’s small wonders, from home cooking to quiet walks in the park.
Free tools to beat stress
Now vaccination programmes are being rolled out in many parts of the world, there is a sense that we may soon be able to return to some sense of normal life. But anxieties will remain and may even be magnified, especially as people return to offices for the first time and begin to take trips on public transport.
To help your workforce measure their stress levels, we’ve created the new online StressWaves tool which gives a quick stress assessment in only 90 seconds by simply speaking into a phone or computer – much like a conference call!
We’ve also published a selection of tools and advice in our Stress Care hub that your employees can use to better manage their stress – from mindfulness tips, to better ways of connecting with colleagues, family and friends. And, of course, if your company is a Cigna member, you and your employees can also get in touch with our specialists for professional help.