Knowing the huge emotional impact this unexpected pandemic would have, The Navigator Company developed a special psychological COVID-19 support program in mid-March with the aim of providing help to all its employees on issues about themselves and their family and friends.
As part of the contingency plan, this initiative takes stock of having a psychologist in the internal Occupational Health Team (OHT) that knows the company and most of their employees. To make it more effective, the program tailored to reinforce psychological support was developed as a joint effort with managers and supervisors across all areas and was disclosed in the intranet, together with several informative articles to promote an easy and trusted adhesion.
Being aware that the first contact is the hardest, different approaches are available to ensure the employees feel comfortable, so contacts can be done by phone, email or an online meeting. Beyond these voluntary contacts, the psychologist also targets more vulnerable employees, with previously identified anxiety and stress traits, and uses information on potential risk situations channeled from managers and supervisors.
During the appointments or informal conversations, the psychologist’s focus is to perceive the employee’s emotional status, how the family situation is, the main problems they are going through and how the company can help. The main concerns shared by the employees have ranged from apprehension about the spreading of the disease, the health of their youngest and oldest relatives, their economic situation, especially when family members experience unemployment or wage cuts, as well as difficulties in conciliating remote working with household obligations, and the future of the company in face of economic and market constraints.
Until the end of May, a total of 550 people received support under this program, 500 of which were contacted by the psychologist and 50 have willfully sought out help. In most of the cases, the employees were deemed to be followed-up until the situation becomes under control or solved.
To ensure that all situations are accompanied, the psychologist’s reports to the OHT started to be issued weekly, instead of monthly, and a daily meeting is provided between both to discuss the current situations and, in many cases, define tailored solutions.
In the end of the conversation with the psychologist the employee is invited to provide feedback on how the company is dealing with the COVID-19 through a short inquiry to be filled online, in order to make it absolutely anonymous and voluntary.
All the information from the interviews and inquiries is gathered by the OHT to establish concrete actions for the main concerns recorded in each period. The team analyzes the results over time and studies their progress to understand both the employees’ health and state of mind, the effectiveness of the implemented measures, and to reinforce or define new actions.
According to the last report, the main conclusions show that no significant deterioration in the mental health status of Navigator’s employees was recorded and only 18% of the 550 employees involved showed increased symptoms of depression or anxiety. Also, most employees are confident with the Company's Contingency Plan and, in general, they find it meaningful and acknowledge the enormous effort put in place.