Several media articles are warning about mental health struggles during the COVID-19 lockdown. Besides the anxiety of the pandemic, people have to adapt to new ways of living: working from home, parenting their children, taking care of their loved ones, carrying out home duties, loneliness and deprivation of liberty. Group Chief Human Capital Officer at IBL and a seasoned occupational psychologist, Hubert Gaspard speaks about initiatives IBL is taking to ensure mental health assistance to its team members.
1. How did IBL’s Human Capital (HC) Department integrate wellbeing into its business continuity planning?
During confinement, we held regular meetings with team members via Microsoft Teams. In the beginning, these moments were formal but they then became more social times. We renamed them “Coffee time”. Keeping in touch is vital for team members. Needless to say that life at work is also the most appreciated social life moment for some team members.
Also, the contact number of our psychologist was given and we got feedback that this was most appreciated.
Meanwhile, two sessions were organised with a coach and Trainer of Mindfulness. It has helped our team members live a moment of intimate connection with themselves.
We also organised learning seminars to help employees learn new skills during confinement.
2. What are the recurring challenges that IBL team members have been facing since the beginning of the lockdown?
The challenges of working from home (WFH) has very quickly jumped into a new routine. With the facilitation offered by the IT team, everything was made possible to continue our operations. Even the payroll process was made possible with the WFH.
3. What kind of mental health assistance does the HC Department provide to people in need?
Besides the support provided by our psychologist, we also launched a Counselling and Support Cell. Many team members used this facility to share challenges their family members are facing – access to food, child studying abroad, or child back in Mauritius but in quarantine, etc.
4. To what extend has IBL’s Human Capital Transformation programme prepared the company and its team members to cope with this forced working from home?
The HC Transformation has speeded up the process of digitalising the HC processes. Actually, we’re still finalising the implementation programme with our future partner for the use of a complete HC suite.
Also, in this time of confinement, the efficient talents and leaders have been clearly confirmed. People skills, taking quick decisions, managing data from different sources and self-management are the critical competencies that have helped companies going through this crisis.
5. Which lessons is the HC Department learning from this crisis?
In this particular case, our Group Safety and Health Manager has been instrumental to manage this crisis together with other Executives of the Corporate Centre.
We learned the importance of clearly defining responsibilities and communicating. On the group structure functioning, it has helped identifying some optimisation drivers to do things better, especially when it comes to communicating with governmental bodies.
We have also witnessed the capacity of the Group to use its internal ressources as well as its network to help the country/government to face this pandemic environment.
6. Is the HC Department preparing mental health assistance for team members when they’ll be back in the office when the confinement ends?
We are still having our internal psychologist and we will see if the Counselling and Support Cell can still help.