Following the publication of Brookfield’s strategy to acquire commercial property which others were abandoning, their stock price rose by 17.5%.
Now, there is a significant segment of the population who would return to the workplace today if it weren’t for fear. Certainly there are enough disinfectant wipes, masks, plexiglass partitions, and the like to create an atmosphere of safety. Yet, fear is not rational. One of the authors is a Psychologist who back in the early 70’s developed the first group fear of flying programs. Indeed, the statistics then were that 30% of the flying public flew with some degree of fear and approximately 10% of that 30% wouldn’t fly at all. Yet, the statistics then were that the likelihood of sustaining an injury was greater while traveling on an elevator than in an aircraft.
Phobias, by definition, are irrational fears. Therefore, when someone is vaccinated to the tune of 95% immunity, wears a mask, washes their hands regularly, works behind a plexiglass barrier and keeps their distance from others, and is still fearful of working amongst others, this would constitute a phobia. Once a phobia has been developed, even if the stimulus for the fear is removed, the phobia may well have developed a life of its own and, in the case of coronavirus, will be sustained even after the pandemic is long over.
People not only have a desire to work with others; they actually have a need to work with others. Companies cannot function at their optimum with people spread over hell’s half acre. Study upon study speaks to the benefits of teamwork whether it’s to be more efficient in decision-making, increase productivity, enhance innovation and creativity, complete challenging tasks and complete projects faster and more efficiently.
Our team at PKA has developed a solution to Covid based anxiety consisting of a self-assessment tool and self-paced Covid anxiety relief training program. Euphemistically, we are referring to the program as the Covid Stress-Inoculation Training Program. The assessment allows employees to determine their level of COVID-related anxiety and based on the intensity of that anxiousness the employee is then directed to an on-line self-help training program to manage anxiety or, in extreme cases, can be guided to professionals who have expertise in eliminating or lessening the intensity and duration of the anxiety.
Who benefits from the program? First and foremost, the individual employee. By virtue of mastering COVID driven anxiety the employee will now have a choice to work from anywhere, or return full or part-time to their place of work. The employer derives benefit by virtue of having access to their employees, who in turn have in-person access to one another. Finally, landlords ought to be in a better position to retain tenants which ought to result in such community benefits as business districts not imploding, shops closing and even greater degrees of unemployment in the community. The benefits are by no means trivial.
Our team is embarking on several projects to put the COVID Stress-Inoculation Program into practice. One of our team is a former cancer surgeon and hospital CEO. His input has been on the precision medicine tailored to the individual approach to assess and triage individuals with COVID anxiety into appropriate programs to support employees into the transition to congregant work. We will be collecting data on aggregate changes in employee data to assist employers and landlords with supporting their tenants/employees. Finally longitudinal data collected will provide valuable tools to HR Directors at not only enhancing employee engagement but heading off increased stress, anxiety and mental health problems that currently dominate many long term disability plans.
The truth is that people will return to the workplace. Contact us to learn more about the program we have developed to allow for a safe return to congregant work that benefits all parties: employee, employer, landlord and the communities in which we live and work.