The impact of the pandemic could have far reaching consequences and not just on family businesses but invariably on businesses of any nature. More so, a family business as this type of business is closely knit by way of close relationships.
Only this week Family Business Office Malta in collaboration with TV program Wirt u Eredi featured an interesting topic were remote working and the impact COVID had were discussed. Family businesses are largely built around relationships and in no small measure have these relations been effected but does the buck just stop with the loss of one on one communicative relationships or are there other far reaching consequences?
Many family businesses focus on creating long-term value and place significant importance on supporting multiple stakeholders, including their employees. For these family business leaders and owners, employees are like family. And, right now during the COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns, many employees are suffering. While much emphasis is appropriately placed on physical health and economic needs, mental health may be neglected.
At the start of the pandemic, family businesses rightly focused on making the work environment safe from COVID transmission and ensuring that as many team members as possible could work remotely. However, as the dust settles and we slowly move towards a Post Covid World, family business leaders are coming to terms with the devastating effects of the pandemic. They are starting to realise that support is needed to ensure the mental health of the team. Pre-COVID, a team of employees would meet in the office and mental health could be best discerned, but what happens when we remove the physical contact ? Today’s video calls, meetings and check-ins provide much less insight into the well-being of individual team members.
However, these video calls do provide short windows into people’s lives. Employees and family business owners alike are trying to juggle demanding jobs while simultaneously focusing on helping their young children learn remotely. Others, whose jobs require them to work onsite, are trying to arrange care for their children and find ways to supervise them if their school has shifted to virtual learning. Some team members work while caring for aging parents who are at high risk for COVID or caring for family members who have contracted the disease. Others on the team are living and working alone during lengthy lockdowns. All of this takes an emotional toll, and the usual coping strategies we all use are greatly constrained by the inability to socialize as one normally would.
Prioritizing the mental well-being of employees is not just the right thing to do. It can have long-term financial benefits for the company. Depression is estimated to cause 200 million lost workdays each year at a cost to employers of $17 billion to $44 billion. Organizations that prioritize employee mental health can reduce the number of workdays missed, enhance worker productivity and ultimately improve their bottom line.
The topic of mental health is not a taboo topic. But, over the last few years, its importance has been heightened and its stigma greatly reduced, making the conversation easier to have. And it is a conversation that needs to be had — especially for family business owners and leaders, who are generally closer to their employees than other business owners and leaders tend to be. Although the solutions implemented by different organizations may vary based on what is right for them and their employees, how to support the mental health and well-being of the team should be on the agenda of every upcoming board meeting.
( All factual and statistical information presented in this blog has been obtained from an extract of an article from Familybusinessmagazine.com) Follow us on our Facebook page and Family Business Office website at www.familybusiness.org.mt
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