The emotional impact of COVID-19

It feels like we’re moving on to yet another phase of the Covid journey of fun we’ve all had the pleasure of experiencing so far in 2020; the immediate crisis is moving behind us*, and we’re now staring into an abyss of challenges and struggles as we deal with the aftermath.

Markets bouncing around quite giddily have created a bit of a false sense of bounce back for some. Each recession has its own characteristics, and I think this one isn’t going to be characterised by the performance of the markets, but by the human impact.

It wouldn’t matter if the stock markets were back at their pre-Covid levels on Monday, the fallout is far more systemic. As we start to think about a rebuild, the challenges are far more nuanced than economics. As business owners, some of the problems we’re currently facing are:

  • What impact has any furloughing had on staff, and how do those who have been on furlough restart their engines and get back up to speed?
  • What impact has redundancies had on remaining team members?
  • How do you begin to rebuild an office environment, albeit a new style one, when people are so used to being at home now?
  • How do staff balance their work lives when a lack of childcare is still problematic for many?
  • What about morale and team spirit? How do you rebuild that when Zoom quizzes have just about been milked for all their worth?
  • Most people’s work focus comes from having plans and goals; what do you do when they’ve been effectively ripped up and the future is still looking so uncertain and unsettled for us all?

These are more emotional issues, but ones that will still have very tangible impacts. Most firms have done their absolute best to look after their staff and clients and guide their way through the choppiest of waters. But none of us have got it exactly right, as we didn’t know what on earth we were dealing with, and unexpected repercussions are starting to creep in and I believe will become more and more apparent in the coming months. The immediate health risk may be starting to fade away, but the shockwaves that it has created in individuals and therefore businesses (and therefore the economy) have barely got started.

But – it’s not all doom and gloom! Firstly, everyone is in the same boat. So it’s a great time for sharing and supporting one another (and a lot of good can come from authentic collaboration, and not just for commercial purposes). Plus, a new level of resilience will be borne out of this, whether emotional resilience (realising that the end of your tether is a bit further away than you expected) financial resilience (discovering that a huge amount of expenditure can be very easily cut back with little impact on the daily joys of life) or business resilience (discovering how to flex, adapt and innovate) and these will open a whole world of opportunity. Just as soon as we get out of the current mire.

*potential second wave/beach madness aside

This article originally appeared in the weekly newsletter from Cathi Harrison, CEO of The Verve Group. Want to receive this every week? Sign up here.

The emotional impact of COVID-19