A pilot study of office-based employees' stress and trauma levels at large professional services firms in September indicates that 66% of them are experiencing stress, says management and consulting firm IQbusiness.
The study tested key empirical indicators of trauma including financial constraints, breakdowns in close relationships, retrenchments or caring for a loved one.
It found that 92% of respondents are concerned about the state of South Africa’s economy, 54% reported that they were experiencing financial strain and more than 69% were mentally affected by the state of poverty around them and on the news.
“People returning to the physical workplace are different to when they left their offices in March 2020. We have experienced traumatic life events resulting from restrictive lockdowns, home schooling our children, suffering illness, job losses and loss of life in our network of family and friends,” says IQbusiness governance, risk and compliance head Nadine Rix.
Immediate risks to businesses would include absenteeism, decreased productivity and a lack of engagement.
However, there are practical steps companies can take to achieve organisational resilience. But the first step is to understand the problem, the symptoms and the actions required, Rix advises.
“The emotional cost of the Covid-19 pandemic is mounting and our businesses and organisations must take a proactive approach to address the systemic trauma employed South Africans have experienced or we run the risk of lost productivity, absenteeism, high attrition rates and overall low employee morale,” adds IQbusiness CEO Adam Craker.
According to the World Health Organisation, depression and anxiety disorders have a significant economic impact, with an estimated cost to the global economy of $1-trillion a year in lost productivity.
IQbusiness has developed an employee trauma tool (ETT) that can gather insights from a business’ workforce and enable businesses to deepen their organisational resilience by directly measuring how their workforce is coping and the level of trauma they have or are experiencing.
The ETT is further able to evaluate if existing risk mitigation plans, controls and support programmes are delivering, Craker notes.