Gerald is a Transfer Pricing senior at Deloitte, based in Jakarta, Indonesia. A friendly person who you can often find singing and playing his guitar, Gerald loves sitcoms, writing poems, and working out.
Have you ever had a nightmare that you are trapped and the only places you can go are the kitchen, living room, bathroom, and bedroom? As funny as it may seem, we have just experienced it for more than three months. We don’t even need to imagine it; you and I have been there.
Although the feelings of isolation, loneliness, and boredom have heightened these days due to the pandemic, I could not agree more that this unpredictable situation has reduced anxiety levels for some of us to a certain extent. Ironically, this unfortunate situation might also provide us with the opportunity to slow down and lessen our stress.
Before we reflect on the current situation, let’s look back on how we lived pre-pandemic. One thing that comes to mind is how fast the pace of my life was. If you are someone like me who lives in a big city, commuting in traffic is inevitable. We need to be here and there, do this and that, and manage the work pressure that has caught us up in a tiring routine. Without realizing it, we lose our sense of self. Therefore, it’s not surprising that nearly half of the respondents from the 2020 Deloitte Global Millennial Survey said that they are stressed all or most of the time.
Being stressed “all or most of the time” is damaging to our mental health. We need to acknowledge that this problem could potentially claim lives. However, the stigma around mental health still lingers in some countries, as demonstrated by the survey results, where only 44% of millennials globally (and 38% of Gen Zs) took time off work due to stress or anxiety issues and admitted that those were the reasons to their employers. Millennials who were candid about their absences were three times as likely to say their organizations provided strong mental health support, rather than little or no support. Although anxiety levels fell eight points in the pulse survey during the pandemic, a fortunate outcome, this does not mean that we should overlook the issue.
Support from employers is critical for the wellbeing of employees, leading me to question how employers can help eliminate the heavy stigma surrounding mental health issues in the working environment and support employees experiencing heightened stress.
Open communication from both employees and employers is a simple yet essential way to answer this question. Open communication is more than just effective communication. While the objective of effective communication is intended to ensure the message is understood by the receiver, open communication occurs when both sender and receiver share all the necessary information for both to complete their established goal.
Therefore, providing a safe space for regular and non-judgmental sessions of open communication between employers and employees could be a great start in handling this issue. Personal leave for mental health challenges could also help provide legitimate support for employees. Above all, we all can do our part by educating our society, whether inside or outside of the workplace.
You may have heard the phrase, “It is okay not to be okay!” Even more to that, it is okay to let other people know that you are not okay! Being in an environment with trust allows us to create a working environment with great work ethics and a sense of belonging. Imagine having this in most organizations – we would have happier people with higher productivity.
I could not be happier that Deloitte has supported its employees in these times of heightened stress. The privilege to work from home has helped me and most of my colleagues get through this difficult time. Furthermore, work / life balance has been promoted inside the organization long before we faced this pandemic.
To end on a positive note, here is a little message that I would like to share: Although life changes can be surprising, let us react by showing more of our kindness to others, by demonstrating our care, by being there for each other, and, lastly, by not forgetting that we must be kinder to ourselves.