A lot many are fearing loss of job, some have already seen pay cuts and appraisals are getting delayed almost for everyone -- The COVID-19 crisis and the ongoing lockdown has left employees feeling anxious and worried about their future, prompting many corporates to look for ways to keep the staff motivated.

Some are roping in psychologists to conduct ''happiness sessions'' for staff members over video conferencing, others have decided to keep communicating with them regularly about business updates and a few are also promising necessary steps to safeguard their career progression along with additional perks for ''performers'' during such difficult times.

Experts said there is high stress that the current crisis has brought upon employees as well as organisations, and with the lockdown not looking to end soon, the emotional challenges employees are confronting have increased manifold.

"Yes, there is some amount of anxiety as it is a situation many of us including organisations have never been faced with. In terms of appraisals, it is too early to say on the stand of the organizations as Covid-19 has an impact on the employer as well in terms of business," Sudeep Sen, Business Head- Industrial Manufacturing and Engineering $@$# General Staffing, TeamLease Services, said.

On top of it, some retail touch points have remained open during the pandemic and employees who are still working onsite in industries such as healthcare, food services and critical manufacturing operations will have different stress levels and concerns than those working from home.

Onsite employees are under extreme worry of being infected by co-workers or customers. They are worried if the organization will be able to provide sufficient workplace safety and one of their biggest worries is to travel to work without being stopped by cops.

At times like this, some employers are going the extra mile and rewarding their onsite employees in essential sectors with appreciation allowance, besides taking several steps to ensure employee safety including regular sanitisation of high-touch surfaces, provision of masks, installing sanitisers stations and conducting temperature checks for all associates.

"We are particularly grateful to associates who work in our stores and are selflessly serving the community at this time. In recognition, we will provide every field associate an appreciation allowance of Rs 200 per day over and above their pay for every day of attendance during the lockdown period," a Walmart India spokesperson said.

"We are also committed to ensuring safe transport for our store associates and are providing conveyance reimbursement to them in the absence of local transport," the spokesperson added.

In order to survive these tough times HR leaders and people managers are encouraging and supporting employees, communicating with them regularly about the business updates, positive news and actions organizations are taking to come out of the situation. Many companies are also conducting special online sessions for the staff to keep them motivated and stress-free.

Psychologist and 'happiness coach' Sakshi Mandhyan, who was been roped in by various corporate houses for such online 'happiness classes', said we get anxious when we think about the future that is actually unpredictable and uncertain.

"If we talk about the current situation, many people would have made plans for April and the coming months on the basis of appraisals they were expecting this month. But sadly that is not happening," she said.

Mandhyan, who was earlier associated with Max Hospitals and now runs Mandhyan Care, said what people need to do is try to change things that are in their own hands, rather than worry about things outside their control.

"For example, whether one would have a job or not is not entirely in one's control in such a scenario, but how to manage available finances is still controllable. So, spending smartly is the key point here.

"The good part is expenses have gone down due to people staying home mostly and therefore the way forward can be learning to get back to basics -- that is learning to manage with basic necessities and cut down on unnecessary or avoidable luxuries. We need to understand that a few generations back, such kind of expenditure was not happening and people were still happy," Mandhyan said.

"The best trait humans have is their ability to adapt to things and to manage to survive in every kind of situation. There will be initial difficulties, but gradually, we all will get used to it and we will make peace with the changing situations. Having the natural survival instincts, human beings adapt to any given situation. There would be changes in the way we wind down, such as we may start having card parties at home rather than going to a party outside our homes," she added.

Many organisations are offering online toolkits and resources so all employees have what they need to operate productively. Some companies have also taken to this time to drive their Learning and Development initiatives.

"Organisations are equally worried about their employee well-being, positive mental state and ability to remain stable and loyal. This worry is more so for employees who perform well or are potential performers," said Ashissh Kaul - Associate Director, Advisory Services, SHRM India.

Providing these employees a clear and proper roadmap of their career post COVID-19 times has also been a priority, Kaul said adding that many organisations are offering coupons to order meals, ensuring benefits like access to online yoga classes etc as an incentive.

"This is a time of responsibility from both employers and employees. Corporates must show more empathy towards their staff, being transparent with business conditions and helping set clear expectations will help ease out stress," global executive recruitment organisation Antal International India Managing Director Joseph Devasia said.

Devasia further said that "in these tough times, corporations will care more about those who have contributed to the growth of the organisation".

He noted that every organisation will be faced with downsizing at some point over the next 12 months, hence reviewing salaries, perks, benefits and knocking off bonuses or increments would be normal. In such circumstances loyalty and retention take a second stand, versus ensuring sustainance of business. PTI DRR

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