It has been a long three months, do we understand enough about the mental health impact? Have you seen behaviours change as many have becoming increasingly siloed? The need to create purpose.

It is no surprise that there are research that has found that the lockdowns saw more people reporting common mental disorders and anxiety in the UK. Many reports note that mental health has been impacted by people feeling lonely, working from home, caring for children and struggling financially.
In a study last year of over 13,000 interviews, almost 30% of adults living in the UK who had not reported a common mental disorder before the pandemic reported experiencing one in the first lockdown. It is natural as the lockdown has been long and of course, there are many strains to be considered.

However, there are also more subtle concerns, as many employers are reporting seeing an increased lack of energy amongst their teams, naturally demotivated by the pandemic and also how many have become increasingly siloed in their thinking. It is a growing concern which has fuelled, for many, an increased desire to see many return to work in offices and the need for offices to become centres of collaboration and bringing people together.
“The challenge for all leaders is how they can reach and inspire their teams once again. The world has moved on and new messages are required. Internal comms will need to be by far more effective than ever before”

Research also, quite rightly, points out that the lifting of lockdowns sees the numbers feeling mentally strained and anxious reduce by close to 15-17%. It just serves to highlight the importance of purpose and hope in daily life.

In fairness, many argue it could have been worse. We have not seen the devastating effects of many forecasts last year but neither has the fall-out from the pandemic been seen or felt as yet. Forecasts are, at the moment, suggesting that 1:3 adults will be struggling but for companies, the bigger struggle will be correcting some of the behaviours and thinking which will have naturally developed over the past year.

There are three growing schools of thinking developing amongst senior players:

· It is important to get people back into the disciplines of work and work environments sooner rather than later. Many expect it will take the rest of the year to be able to develop new work habits.

· There is a need for organizations to create very clear senses of purpose which employees can buy into and want to contribute to. This will create a new level of energy which will help many.

· The young talents who are desperate to get back into offices will drive change and challenge middle management to raise the bar. This may be true but it also assumes a heightened level of friction during the rebuilding process.
As one expert noted:

“Many boards focus on business models but this is a hidden threat which potentially impacts on productivity and service levels. Companies will need to once again outline their expectations to each employee, however long in service, of what is the benchmark to be achieved in terms of behaviour and performance. It is difficult. Think of all those appraisals which told people their performance was good whilst they were at home. How do you now say it was not good enough to what is wanted?”

Another noted that the answer will lie in internal comms which will need to be another three levels higher than they ever were before:

“The challenge for all leaders is how they can reach and inspire their teams once again. The world has moved on and new messages are required. Internal comms will need to be by far more effective than ever before”