The psychological effects of a disaster last a very long time, research shows.
While the current pandemic is an event unlike any other in our lifetimes, it is also a widespread disaster. And although it’s been more than 100 years since an illness has affected the entire world at this scale, we have lots of precedent for disasters that devastate entire communities, such as hurricanes, earthquakes, terrorist attacks, and wars.
Getting ready to reopen your business? You may be feeling elated about starting up again, and your employees may be pleased to get back to work as well. But you and they will likely go through a whole collection of emotions, both good and bad, over the next few months. You should be prepared to give them the support they need — and take care of your own emotional state as well.
Emotional reactions to a disaster tend to follow a pattern. Even though every individual is different, we all experience events such as the pandemic as members of a community and our community’s emotions and reactions are likely to affect us as well.
What does all this mean to you and your employees? When you and they return to work, you may all be in the honeymoon phase, able to leave home and go to the office, or anywhere else you please. But in time, your employees and you may find yourselves in the disillusionment phase, especially when restrictions are only gradually eased, or if you’re struggling to rebuild your business in an economy that remains crippled by the pandemic. Or, worse, if there’s a new wave of cases in a few months, as some have warned.
What should you do? Start by being patient with yourself and your employees as you ride this emotional rollercoaster. Feeling energetic and hopeful one day and lethargic and depressed the next is perfectly normal at this time.