They say experience is life’s most excellent teacher. In major disruptive events like a pandemic, it’s clear that the message is companies need to have a business continuity plan (BCP).
The problem is, often, this program focuses a lot (or even wholly) on the legal, financial, and marketing aspects of the business. It often forgets one critical component: people.
When designing a business continuity and disaster recovery policy, the plan should also tackle how to help employees become more resilient. It must also protect their mental health and well-being by reducing stress.
How Stressed Are U.S. Employees?
Workplace stress is real, and it happens with or with no significant disruptive event in the office. According to the American Institute of Stress (AIS), over 80% of the workforce complained about job stress.
In a recent survey, over 25% said that their work is their primary life stressor. Meanwhile, over 75% claimed that employees today are more stressed than previous generations.
Workplace stress happens for many reasons. About 46% blamed it on their workload, while about 28% felt the effects of workplace conflict and other people issues. Only 6% considered job security as the primary cause of their stress.
Companies must not ignore job stress because it can have significant effects in the workplace. The data from the AIS revealed that:
- Every day, around a million employees miss work because of stress.
- Businesses could lose up to $300 billion a year.
- This stress might be responsible for over 100,000 deaths and a staggering healthcare cost of $190 billion.
Most of all, this stress can increase the risk of mental health problems. A survey revealed that almost 25% of the US workforce, including managers, received a depression diagnosis.
Of this group, 40% had to leave work for at least ten days a year. It is, therefore, not surprising that AIS said that depression could cost businesses $51 billion in absenteeism and $26 billion in treatment.
How Disruptive Events Can Make It Worse
While US employees are under a lot of stress, many can cope because they can achieve some sense of normalcy. It dramatically changes, though, once they need to deal with a sudden and often disruptive event, such as this coronavirus pandemic.
Disasters can increase feelings of anxiety because of the level of uncertainty. Can they still report to work? Do they still have employment? What will happen to the company?
They also introduce change, and not everyone can embrace it quickly. More often than not, people react to it in two ways: opposition or resistance through avoidance.
How the Company Can Help
A company cannot exist without its employees, and therefore, it’s only right that it protects its people, especially during critical times. The BCP can help in this area by:
- Creating direction – An ideal BCP will include the steps employees have to undertake under various scenarios. The primary team that handles it might need to conduct drills or simulations. Direction provides clarity and helps lower anxiety.
- Giving assurance – Uncertainty will be one of the employees’ biggest enemies during these troublesome times. A BCP can help ease their worries by letting know that (1) the management is taking care of the business and the workforce, (2) they can look forward to a manageable outcome, and (3) the company is looking after their welfare during and after the event.
Workplace stress decreases productivity and demoralizes employees. It worsens during a disaster. BCP can help mitigate these risks if it incorporates the workforce’s mental health.