Historically the extended family is consulted to solve problems and unfortunately, that network is not as reliableas a result of COVID. As a result, organisations should provide support for employees as a routine aspect of their operations – if staff are cared for, the wider community is strengthened
Excerpts by Arjun Mallik, Managing Director Prudential East Africa
According to Arjun Mallik, MD Prudential East Africa, COVID-19 and its resultant ebbing lockdown periods have been a stressful time for people all over the world including in Africa. Emotional wellness of people should be at the forefront of most companies’ plans. While businesses are grappling with how to sustain themselves, they should simultaneously be taking care of their employees. There are simple initiatives that businesses of all sizes can take to start addressing mental wellness, which Prudential Africa has outlined below.
What key learning lessons has Prudential Africa attained as a result of operating in the COVID – 19 pandemic?
“Collective trauma as a result of COVID-19 happened at a societal level while making individuals more inward-looking.Our employees in Ghana, Kenya and Uganda are experiencing heightened trepidation due to everyday uncertainties, less interaction with colleagues and concerns for family safety.Inevitably, employee pressure equals business pressure,” says Arjun Mallik, MD for Prudential East Africa.
Mr. Mallik also added “We find that it requires more mindfulwork within our workplace to balance business objectives and life’s normal needs and responsibilities.”
With 60% of its population under the age of 25, Africa is theyoungest continent. The continent continues to offer businessesthe best prospects for future growth. Human capital is a vital prerequisite for capitalising on opportunities ahead. To fully unlock the potential of the vast human resources available it is paramount that each individual is provided an atmosphere to develop, maintain and grow their mental wellness, which has taken a knock during the pandemic.
“Our experience shows that for employees to reach their potential, to contribute meaningfully and to create value in a workplace they must be in the right state of mind. Shareholders and managers demand a lot from staff and excess stress of this kind leads to mental and physical break downs and sometimesburnout. If someone is anxious, stressed or depressed, they become less attentive and less productive and it sets back their growth potential. Awareness and acceptance of this stress is part of the key to mental fitness of employees and should never be overlooked,” continues Mr. Mallik.
“Although COVID has negatively impacted our lives, it has given people the confidence to admit that they need help and support and to recognise that mental wellness is a priority. Moreover, at Prudential Africa we have realised that if we give our employees the opportunity to be heard and to heal emotionally, we create an atmosphere for them to bounce back quicker.” says Mr. Mallik.
Prudential Africa, believes that the first step is to bring the conversation about mental wellness into the open – to acknowledge it, talk about it and, finally, in unison with staff,find solutions to improve.
What has Prudential Africa invested in to support building staff emotional wellness?
Prudential Africa has invested in a dedicated programme that ensures the following:
What other tools has Prudential Africa inputted into the staff emotional wellness program to ensure its success?
“The ultimate message to staff should be – you are not alone –everyone has mental challenges in different ways and we areall in this together. You should be able to show up to work in the best possible form of yourself,” concludes Malik.