Leadership in the new normal must ensure employee well-being

The coronavirus pandemic taught us the importance of mental health in work and personal functioning. Leaders must take charge of this area henceforth.

Employees take cues from their leaders and look to them to see how they weather the storms of life. Therefore, leaders mustn't just say they support mental well-being, but must also role-model healthy behaviours so that their team members feel they c
Employees take cues from their leaders and look to them to see how they weather the storms of life. Therefore, leaders mustn't just say they support mental well-being, but must also role-model healthy behaviours so that their team members feel they can prioritise self-care and set boundaries. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Workplace mental health has taken a front seat this year. Already deemed a "highly stressed" nation of workers, Singapore saw the Covid-19 pandemic bring a perfect storm of stressors to our shores with work-from-home arrangements blurring the line between employees' work and personal lives, social isolation as people stayed home while offices and shops were shut, fears about job security, and restrictions on travel.

Prior to the pandemic, stress-related illnesses were already costing Singapore's economy $3.2 billion annually, according to a study last year. Whether organisations return to their workplaces or continue with their remote working arrangements, are employees ready for the new work normal? How can employers keep their workforce mentally healthy and future-ready in a post-Covid recovery?

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 25, 2020, with the headline 'Leadership in the new normal must ensure employee well-being'. Subscribe