The number of workers reaching out for emotional support has increased dramatically along with the spread of COVID-19. Workplace Options, a global wellbeing provider, has experienced a 27 percent increase in calls over the last several weeks from employees seeking emotional support.
“Employees’ concerns during this pandemic are multi-faceted,” explains Stephen Galliano, Workplace Options’ Executive Vice President of Customer Support and Services. “At the most basic level, people are anxious about their own health and safety, as well as that of their loved ones. With unemployment numbers rising, there are also growing fears of financial instability. On top of that, you have employees adjusting to remote working, parents attempting to homeschool children, and families quarantined together in homes. These compounded issues are taking a toll on even the most resilient employees.”
In addition to providing online and telephonic emotional wellbeing support, Workplace Options is taking a proactive step and providing its corporate clients complementary access to a series of live, guided mindfulness exercises offered online. To date, 14,000 employees from around the world have participated in the program, which has been offered in English, European French, French Canadian, Mandarin, and Portuguese. Additional classes in Spanish and Italian will be added in the coming weeks.
Here is some feedback provided by recent participants:
- The presenter was great. So soothing and calm.
- Wanted to say thank you for providing these sessions. I’ve had a long and stressful week, and this was just what I needed.
- Thank you for the mindfulness webinar sessions. I am finding them very valuable and will make good use of them.
- I just appreciate the opportunity to pause, relax, and try to forget about all that is swirling around us. Thank you.
The exercises are an extension of WPO’s Aware program, which pairs employees with Aware specialists who provide mindfulness training and support over a period of six weeks. The concept of mindfulness is associated with the Buddhist tradition, as well as other religious and non-religious practices. However, mindfulness is a broader term that includes meditation and focus training, as well as breath and body exercises.
In recent years, a number of large companies, including Nike and Apple, have started offering regular mindfulness training as a way to help employees manage stress and optimize focus. In a six-month follow-up survey of participants who completed the Aware program, Workplace Options found that employees continued to enjoy improvements in focus, ability to sleep, and ability to manage stress.
“We are facing a lot of unknowns at the moment,” shares Stephen. “Nobody knows how long social isolation will last or when life will return to normal. Mindfulness is a way to help employees turn their attention away from what is unknown back to the present moment, which can be both calming and stabilizing.”