Resilience and mental stability key to professional health.
More than six months into the coronavirus pandemic, the workplace is highly fluid. Business leaders and policy makers are trying to mitigate the impact to their organization while managing overall economic challenges. The common denominator in this is the people. Workers are challenged with adapting to the working conditions and/ or the loss of employment. Companies need to adapt and innovate to maintain sustainability and survive. The same is occurring with the workforce.
If you are 35 years old or younger, a minority in a large city, or do not have a bachelor’s degree, your job is vulnerable during this time. The other major change is working remotely—something we all said we wish we could but now we can, and we are overwhelmed with the competing demands. However, your job and family are at the top of the list. So, the position that once worked now might not be the right fit. How do you survive a reduction in hours, unemployment, underemployment, or overemployment?
Employed or unemployed, we all must understand the workplace has changed. We have to pay attention to it as we are responsible for our careers. What is your company doing? What is going on in the industry? Yes, we are overwhelmed with staying safe during the pandemic, but we have to do the same with our finances. Overwhelm can lead to stress and then stagnation or procrastination. Focus on what you can do and influence. This requires a key skill we need to develop and strengthen—resilience. The impact of COVID-19 will not end in the next six months.
Follow the Demand
Evaluate the job market. There are industries that are excelling, and job growth is happening. Research the industries that have become a greater necessity during this pandemic and where new job opportunities have been created. We have workforce transition efforts occurring at all levels and industries.
Here are a few questions to consider:
■ Where is there a talent shortage?
■ What services or/and products are in demand now and in the future?
■ What companies have been consistent or growing in the stock market?
Next, determine your skill gaps and interest. What will it take for you to make the transition to a new career?
■ Rank your interest in the new career, what is the educational qualification, certification or work experience required?
■ Will there be a change in work hours or location, what are the physical demands, change in work attire and/or impact on your household?
And lastly, determine the cost. The career change will be an investment. It is important for you to determine the level of investment needed versus the long-term benefit of the change. Definitely schedule a meeting with your financial advisors to determine the options of self-funding your change. There may also be resources available with your local workforce development agency, which may be able to fund you completing a certification program. Learn what is available and use it to your advantage.
Some love using technology at/for work. Some don’t. The ability to be comfortable with engaging technology in your role for communication, automation, engagement, transactions, and safety, is non-negotiable in the workplace. Analyzing data and having good problem-solving skills is important in any job. Learning how to use technology to solve work related issues is an asset. Google and other tech companies offer numerous developmental courses online for free. Lifelong learning is important for the employed and the unemployed. Take advantage of the courses, virtual events, workshops and other online sessions. Learn a new skill, get industry updates, network, and gain access to new opportunities.
Connectedness and Mental Stability
Many factors contribute negatively to mental health in the workplace. Today, we don’t have to look far. If you are still working, your workplace has taken on a whole new dynamic. For some, they have never worked virtually. If you are an extrovert or live alone, this location change will have some effects. The social interaction is different. Not to mention, working from home is not for everyone. You are working harder, longer hours, and balancing multiple demands if you have children or family members at home. The mental state is challenged in a new way but stress and worry of uncertainty is common. Here are some ways to stay grounded and increase positivity.
■ Participate in virtual social events for fun and networking. Join a new group and one with familiar faces. You may need to start one yourself.
■ Set boundaries. These can be for your work hours, job search time, for a staycation or for a therapy appointment.
■ Make a daily task list, take time to exercise and create an in-home spa day for self-care.
■ Schedule a movie night, journal your journey, volunteer, don’t isolate yourself for long periods of time.