The year 2020 has witnessed some revolutionary events that have created havoc and distress for longer periods – it started from the major Australian bushfires that kept people stranded for days and had devastating impacts on the environment. COVID-19 is next, which is making headlines even now – globally, we’re now in the fourth month of watching this pandemic play out.
The gas leak in Vishakhapatnam was a major industrial accident that was compared to the Bhopal gas tragedy – resulting vapour cloud of this leak spread over three kilometres, making 1000 people sick and taking a toll on 13 lives. People had to forcefully evacuate their homes in the times of COVID-19, increasing their vulnerability to the already prevailing pandemic.
Just when we realized that basic sustenance is all that is the need of the hour, the news of locust attack that has started from East Africa is making things worse. The fear of desert locust, a short-horned grasshopper, which is known to devour everything in their path, is posing an unprecedented threat to food supply and livelihood of millions of people in India, Pakistan and other countries.
We cannot deny the fact that we all had to accept the changes that we never anticipated. No one truly knows the extent of impact, how they will affect us or for how long their echoes last.
If not mitigated and controlled in time, they will not only intensify, but lengthen. While direct loss to property, environment and assets are the most obvious effects, more common impacts include –
- Transport delays
- Loss of productivity
- Adverse effects on human health
- Erosion of social and emotional support mechanisms
If we talk about industries, they are facing tough decisions about how to keep operations going or what exactly to do when they face orders to close their doors for an unknown length of time.
For industries, it isn’t easy. But with their employee support, they can undertake creative corporate actions – the textile industry is already making a giant shift and has changed their production from garments to medical gowns and face masks. Industries like automobiles are using their 3D printing machines to design and produce equipment essential for hospitals, such as face mask clamps, ventilators and yes, door handle adapters to make it easy to open the doors with an elbow.
Such difficult situations can take a toll on the mental health of the individuals – whether it is a small corporate or a large one, everyone can play a positive role in the employee welfare, thereby contributing to the community and global welfare.
Today, as much as the cooperation between governments and companies stands imperative, so is the understanding between companies and their employees important. It is thereby vital to safeguard and maintain their employees’ physical and psychological well-being.
In these uncertain times, the definition of good communication is even more pronounced because we have to limit being physically together. Situations can be stressful to employees, especially when information about facility-specific impacts and their management seems opaque. Regular and frequent email updates, recurring meetings that explain the latest condition and virtual check ins that help maintain social connections can support employees.
Flexibility given in these times can go a long way. This sudden and bizarre social disconnect can make situations worse for the working couples, amplifying their parenting responsibilities. On a milder side, some might take time to handle the reality – be it the background noises and the constant interruptions in a home environment.
Though remote working has removed the thin line between home and office, any small encouragement on the company’s part can mutually reinforce good relationships.
Doesn’t matter how little or big the action is, it is crucial that companies remain proactive and respond to the needs of their employees in whatever ways they can.