Employee wellbeing and employee engagement are both critical ingredients of individual and organisational performance. The two concepts are inextricably interlinked, like two trees growing intertwined. When one is damaged, the other also suffers. This concept has become particularly evident during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has not only impacted so many people physically, but, too, has caused prolonged anxiety, fatigue and uncertainty in many. Psychologists have described this fear and resulting exhaustion as an emotional tsunami and the effects on employee wellbeing are huge.

The latest research on the wellbeing of adults worldwide is as follows:

It is inevitable that the emotional pain ripples through to individual work performance, motivation and engagement – and this at a time when organisations are under huge pressure to recover from the negative ongoing impact of the pandemic. There is currently a huge need to tap into the talents and contribution of all employees, but is this possible within this devastating context?

Free To Grow has built a set of tools to develop employee emotional fitness – resilience, optimism, ownership and flexibility – enabling staff to persevere during these tough times. Alinda Nortje (Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Free To Grow) notes: “When employees acquire the mind set and skills to break through instead of break down, they can direct their focus and energy towards meeting the needs of the organisation and the demands of their work”. Free To Grow thus equips employees to draw on and top up their emotional reserves in the following four areas so that staff do not run on empty:

  1. Ownership – focusing on and putting into action what we can control, instead of worrying, especially about issues that we can’t control
  2. Resilience – keeping on hanging on. Noting, along with Martin Seligman (Learned Optimism), that all things are not permanent (the feeling that the situation will never pass), not pervasive (the feeling that the problem controls your whole life) and not personal (the feeling that that this only happens to you, that no-one else is struggling to the same extent that you are)
  3. Optimism – shifting our focus to positives in our lives and making gratitude a way of life on an individual and organisational level
  4. Flexibility and Support – getting to grips with all the inevitable change and knowing when to ask for help, being clear on the kind of help needed and knowing how to ask for the kind of help needed and from whom

Employee strength is built on the two-fold foundation of employee engagement and wellbeing. Every organisation has a huge responsibility to create an environment where these critical needs are met in all staff in order to make significant progress in these tough times.

Free To Grow offers the workshop “Staying Strong” to enable employees weather the emotional tsunami created by the pandemic. For more information, contact me on jonathan@ftgsa.co.za

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