Psychologist Merete Wedell-Wedellsborg told HBR that a crisis follows a rough pattern: Emergency, Regression, and Recovery. The emergency phase is when the pandemic becomes clear. Leaders and executives react immediately. Employees have to face the new work from home regulations that they might have never dealt with before. The energy rises and performance goes up.
The second phase is regression where people start to lose the zest. Employees get tired of working from home. Leaders and executives start to get exhausted about the fast-changing pace of the government’s regulations in response to the crisis. In this phase also, fears and anxiety might grow bigger as the pandemic shows no sign of slowing down.
Finally, the recovery phase comes where businesses and individuals start to pull through from the crisis. In this phase, business leaders and employees need to work side-by-side in order to successfully reopen, rebuild and prepare the business for the future.
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According to Wedell-Wedellsborg, we are currently in the regression phase and it is the most dangerous phase for teams. This phase includes waiting for the next step of crisis regulation (return-to-work) and handling some administrative tasks. This kind of mundane and monotonous waiting can be much more stressful than the crisis itself, which could lead to mental health illness.
Based on a CIPD survey on Health and Well-being at Work, the early indications suggest that the epidemic will have a significant impact on the mental health of employees. As early as two weeks into lockdown, employees were reporting a range of health effects, including negative impacts on mental health and overall well-being.
Further, the ongoing restrictions, such as social distancing and self-isolation, are of the greatest causes for mental stress in employees. Some employees are fearful about contacting the virus, others are anxious about family and friends. Other great causes of mental illness during this pandemic are fears of job security, returning to the workplace (including using public transport for commuting) and financial concerns.
The regression phase is uncomfortable but is also unavoidable. Therefore, understanding what the phase looks like and how to overcome the toughest part of the crisis can help every individual mitigate performance drop.
There are two key steps for individuals to assist themselves out of the regression phase. First is to identify how deep you are into the regression phase. Second is about embracing the regression-escape moves.
Some people are being affected slightly and some are severely affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. If you are unsure at how deep you are affected, you might want to look for evidence. Here are a few leading questions to help measure how deep the crisis has affected you:
After you understand how deeply you are affected by the crisis, it is time to get away from it. There are three main stages in this phase, as described below:
Read also: Best Practices to Stay Connected & Productive during COVID-19 Crisis: Q&A with Matt Loop, Slack’s Head of APAC