Long COVID: How Leaders Can Support Teams Through Challenges
More than 500 million people around the globe have tested positive for COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. Fortunately, for many the virus is a mild disease, and symptoms typically begin to ease between a few days and 4 weeks after infection.
However, for some, the effects of COVID-19 can last much longer. It’s known as ‘long COVID’, and it’s believed that 100 million people have suffered with it so far.
How Long COVID Could be Affecting Your Workforce
With long COVID, sufferers can experience the same symptoms of the disease for extended periods of time. Fatigue is reported as a main symptom by more than 50% of long COVID patients, while brain fog and difficulty concentrating is also common.
But there are many other ways that long COVID could impact your workforce. It has been reported that many sufferers have difficulty sleeping, which can affect both performance and mood in the office. Others notice increased anxiety, which may impact their ability to communicate. Some experience severe joint aches, nausea, and mobility problems, which could make it challenging to leave the home.
You worked hard to build a strong team of powerful people. But the truth is that, if those people aren’t being supported in a way that helps them perform their best, you’re failing to get the full value out of your carefully planned, strategic hires.
Supporting Your Team
The symptoms and severity of COVID-19 differ from person to person. Some are completely asymptomatic, while others require hospital care. It’s exactly the same when it comes to long COVID. Everyone will experience it in a different way.
That means that leaders can’t simply implement the support measures that they think will be effective. Instead, they need to be working to encourage more open communication, and asking their employees what they need to help them.
For example, employees experiencing sleep disturbances could benefit from more flexible working hours that enable them to carry out their tasks at a time when they feel most alert. Employees experiencing pain or nausea may benefit from the introduction of remote working policies that give them the option to work from a more comfortable environment. Those experiencing anxiety may benefit from opportunities to talk with colleagues in an informal, safe setting within the workplace.
It’s clear that there is no one, single way to support employees through long COVID. What is most important is to work to create an inclusive environment that acknowledges the varying needs of workers at the difficult time and helps team members to carry out their tasks in a way that promotes their health and wellbeing.