Adapting to the new world of work will require organisations to prioritise employee wellness and address mental health issues.

Mental health is a serious societal issue. The pandemic was and continues to be a traumatic event for billions of people around the world. The world was at its wits end with mounting unpredictability, financial pressures piling up, increasing isolation and disruption to daily lives being the order of the year. Millions of South Africans now are left with feelings of loss, grief, anxiety and PTSD. However, with the emergence of a vaccine and a steady return to normalcy, the tide is seemingly starting to turn.

Turning the said tide will take some doing but, throughout the years, the channel has proven itself resilient, robust and responsive. At the centre of it all is the often overlooked but principal cog in the channel machine, its people. The chilling results of a national study conducted by a pharmaceutical company, Pharma Dynamics, shows how devastating to the mind the pandemic has been.

In the pool of 1 200 respondents, nearly half (49%) stated they felt anxious or frustrated, while a third (31%) reported feeling depressed. Over half (56%) of the respondents also reported having higher levels of psychological and emotional distress than before the pandemic. Clearly, it’s been a mentally and emotionally taxing year. Yet, here we are alive and kicking.

Putting people first

On the business landscape, none felt the pressures of the pandemic more than the SME. Axiz’s commitment to this specific sector was put to the test and the continued commercial support made a difference. Payment extensions, financing and a servitisation led model is indicative of a people-centric organisation that stretches its support beyond its own organisation to the people that depend on an efficiently run channel partner.

In the age of vaccines, the culture of the organisation and channel needs a shot in the arm. A jolt that wakes people and businesses from the cardiac arrest of the entire globe shutting down. The modern marvels made by vendors can often overshadow the people they serve; here, however, it is the people who have been called on to rebuild from the post-pandemic ruins. This calls for mental fortitude, toughness, a stiff upper lip in the face of palpable peril.

“Extending into the new means that we have to actively engage with each other. Not one of us has got all the answers. You can’t enforce anything – it needs to be collaborative and sensitive around issues. It’s a whole new idea of working together to a better future. That sounds idealistic, but the pandemic has set the stage to realise that future through business outcomes and people’s outcomes,” explains Jacques Malherbe, Axiz’s Chief Technology Officer.

Organisations need to cultivate a culture that prioritises a psychological frame of mind that endorses confidence and commitment to success. Conversely, employees need to take up the mantle and use the channels available to them in order to reach and surpass their previous peak performances.

Most, if not all, businesses were woefully unprepared for a global pandemic, but many fought tooth and nail to keep their heads above the water. That fight and struggle against all odds is part of the solution.

Exposing the workforce to positive mental health concepts is but one way to beat fatigue. Concepts around mental fortitude such as personal resilience, consistency, desire, composure, attention to detail (key) and determination can help rebuild a spirited and confident team. The aim is to aid team members in becoming top performers and mental fortitude and business resilience should spearhead the attack (yes, it must be proactive) against lockdown lethargy and the new (ab)normal.